Do-It-Yourself (DIY) divorce kits are not for everyone. The kits are growing in popularity, partly because they cost substantially less than hiring a divorce attorney. However, when you hire a divorce lawyer, you pay for their extensive legal knowledge and experience. Take time to weigh your personal circumstances before you decide upon DIY divorce as your best option.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce Lacks Benefits of a Divorce Lawyer
Many states limit the use of DIY divorce kits. Others require you to satisfy certain criteria. Couples who reach agreement on everything may still not be allowed to file a DIY divorce. Those who do use DIY kits often regret their choice later. Issues arise that create a less than amicable situation and the parties end up in court with a divorce lawyers. As a result, they spend more money in the long run.
We strongly advise couples who fall into one of the following categories to hire a divorce lawyer. Some jurisdictions require it. If you have:
- minor children
- joint ownership of real estate
- one or both parties holding an interest in a family business
- a home-based business
- assets and debts requiring valuation and distribution
- a marriage of long duration during which the wife never worked outside the home.
Some divorcing couples who fall under one or more of the above categories may still file for divorce without a lawyer. However, in a case where one spouse agrees to certain conditions just to hurry things along, they may later regret that choice. Written agreements do not prevent the parties from later hiring divorce lawyers to renegotiate their original agreement.
Divorce Lawyers Know the Law
Very few people know enough about family law to file DIY divorce with confidence. At first glance, DIY kits seem easy and save the cost of a lawyer. However, minor children, property and other assets could complicate your case. Many factors determine the valuation of property, amount child support, custody, and visitation.
For example, a husband just wants a fast, clean break. He agrees to child support payments substantially higher than the court would award. He later discovers the payments are too high and he’s having trouble making ends meet. As a result, he may hire a family lawyer to arrange child support modification. The liberal visitation schedule to which the couple originally agreed may also need revisions later due to schedule conflicts or other issues.
Disadvantages of DIY Divorce Kits
The major disadvantage in a DIY divorce concerns the process of valuation and distribution of marital assets. Complications arise when couples married many years divorce having considerable investments in real estate, retirement funds, 401K Plans, CDs, savings, etc. Their investments may involve a high amount of debt. In these cases, both parties benefit from hiring a divorce lawyer. In this way, they ensure proper valuation and equitable distribution.
Hiring a divorce lawyer does not negate the possibility of later revisions. It may, however, lower the potential. In summary, DIY divorce kits are best used by couples with no property, no children, and minimal marital assets.
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