The internet is great for a lot of things but a DIY divorce is asking for trouble. Many of us are programmed to always be on the lookout for a better deal and save ourselves money and that's a good thing. But you need to know where to draw the line. If you needed a tooth pulled, would you consider looking at online video tutorials and trying it yourself? Of course not! That would be lunacy. Sure, it would save you money in the short run but cost you oh so much more money in the long run when you break the tooth, get an infection and have to pay a dentist to finish the job.
DIY divorce is never ever a good option unless you have been married three months, have not accumulated anything of value during the marriage and each of you keeps what you came into the marriage with and, even then, you are taking a risk that your documents will miss important details and expose you to future litigation.
Normally, I lay out the “pro's and con's” of legal decisions but I can't think of a single positive for a DIY divorce. Don't make the mistake of so many people who contact our office trying to untangle a hatchet job of an agreement after they went the DIY route and made one error after another. Think of the difference in the cost of renovating a DIY house by going from room by room to fix one construction problem after another versus hiring a builder to construct a house the right way from the start. You'll pay more up front using a builder but save yourself countless headaches and needless expenses in the long run. The same is true with divorces.
Many mistakes made by DIY divorcees can't be corrected. Take for example, the husband who agreed to allow his wife to keep the marital residence and pay him half the equity but failed to include a deadline for doing so in his DIY Settlement Agreement, Unfortunately, the ex-wife can now wait until she is good and ready to pay him his equity in the house—which could be 30 years from now. And there is no way to force his ex-wife to do anything that is not contained in the Settlement Agreement. Or consider the wife who did a DIY divorce that failed to address tax issues/audits that arise after the divorce is finalized and she got left holding the tax debt. These problems could easily have been avoided with legal representation during the divorce.
There is simply no excuse for failing to hire a lawyer when getting a divorce. Don't fall for the $99 divorce paperwork you find online. Blank forms are not a substitute for legal advice and, even though you can find a lot of information on Google, you should not be making major life decisions based upon what you read online. Hire an experienced, knowledgeable divorce lawyer with a reputation you can trust and steer clear of the online DIY divorce forms.
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