Problems with a DIY Divorce
If you are thinking about filing for an uncontested divorce, it can understandably be tempting to try a do-it-yourself divorce. Many couples believe that not involving attorneys will save them money and make the process go faster so they can easily move on with their lives.
The majority of these couples are in for the troubling surprise, because DIY divorces typically create more hassle and greater expenses than if you seek legal guidance or let an attorney handle the process for you.
In fact, according a Boston Globe report, couples who attempt DIY divorces often later need to hire lawyers to correct their mistakes, which causes the process to cost more in the long run than if they had hired an attorney initially.
Division of Property & Assets
When completing a divorce, you will be required to divide property and assets. This can be a very complex process, especially if the parties involved do not understand what items are considered marital property, and which items should be considered a spouse’s separate property.
For example, property that was received as a gift or inherited is considered that spouse’s separate property, but do if you go the DIY route, are you certain which property this might be?
If you make a mistake when dividing property, this mistake can have expensive long-term ramifications. In some cases, it may be possible to return to court and rectify the mistake, or you may be stuck with the changes permanently. The courts have very strict guidelines in place regarding which property disputes can be reviewed, and when the division of property can take place as part of the divorce proceeding.
The division of property can include decisions that are going to have substantial consequences for you as you move forward, and it is essential to be certain that you have completed this section of your divorce process in a way that is fair for each party involved. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through the process of not only completing the property division within the divorce decree, but also assisting you as you legally obtain the property.
Parental Rights and Child Support
If children are involved in a divorce, do-it-yourself divorces are a risky proposition. The process of determining division of parental rights, child support, and access to the children can be very complex and must meet the Maryland legal requirements or the courts will not approve your decree of divorce.
Of course, mistakes in this area can be devastating both for the parents and for the children involved and this process should not be taken lightly. It may be possible for parents to return to court to correct any errors that have been made, but this is a very stressful experience that can be avoided with the help of a knowledgeable family lawyer. The issues that can be reviewed may also be limited depending on how the divorce decree was entered and whether a separation agreement was incorporated in the decree.
When children are part of the divorce decision, there is also the matter of child support that must be covered. Child support encompasses living expenses for the child, but also entails other expenses, such as medical costs. It is very common for child support agreements in DIY settlements to be calculated unfairly for one parent, and rectifying this situation can be a very lengthy and challenging, which is not good for parents or for children.
Actually Having Your DIY Divorce Accepted By the Court
The last step of a do-it-yourself divorce is to go to the court, appear before a judge, and have your decree of divorce accepted and signed. During this stage, you will need to provide evidence proving that you have met all of the necessary Maryland requirements for a divorce. This means that not only may you have to testify to the judge, but you will likely have to have a witness testify to certain facts as well. If you and/or your witness are not prepared, the divorce can be dismissed, causing you to potentially have to start the entire process over again.
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