The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Divorce: Benefits And Pitfalls

 Cary Jacobson
June 29, 2020

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Divorce:
Benefits And Pitfalls.

Cary Jacobson Bio


We live in the age of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. From home improvements to getting divorced, the power of technology and the internet has given us the gift of getting things done on our own and from just about anywhere.  But educating yourself about any DIY process is crucial for your success, especially when it comes to your divorce. If you are considering a do-it-yourself divorce, make sure you understand both the benefits and the pitfalls.  Attorney and mediator, Cary Jacobson, walks us through the  pros and cons of the DIY divorce.  This article originally appeared on the Jacobson Family Law blog.

As we continue to do our part in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly is the time to take on those do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that you may have been putting off.  While it is possible to file for divorce without attorney representation, before you embark on a DIY divorce, it is important to consider the following pros and cons.

The Pros:

  • It may cost you less money. At first glance, a likely advantage of a DIY divorce is saving money. Although the court’s mandatory filing fees can’t be avoided, a DIY divorce will initially avoid, or at least significantly reduce, what you might pay in up front legal fees for hiring an attorney.
  • It may be faster. If you and your spouse agree on everything including property division, child parenting time and legal decision-making authority, child support and spousal support (alimony) and are looking for a cheap, quick option, a DIY divorce may be the way to go.

The Cons:

  • You don’t know what you don’t know. If you have never gone through a divorce before, you may not know some of the common issues that may arise and how to possibly prevent them from becoming disputes in the future. An experienced divorce attorney or mediator can walk you through these issues to ensure you understand all of the options.
  • Missing out on helpful options. If you and your spouse opt to handle your divorce yourselves, you may be missing out on helpful options that may produce a better outcome. Collaborative Divorce and Divorce Mediation are processes that allow you and your spouse to negotiate the terms of your own divorce with minimal court involvement.
  • Pro Se Representing yourself (Pro Se) in your own divorce can be very risky if you are unsure of the necessary court proceedings. Once a judgment of divorce is filed, it is difficult to undo, so if you divide property or an asset incorrectly, you are at the mercy of your spouse.
  • It could lead to an unfair outcome. Often, a DIY divorce can unfairly benefit one spouse over the other. Even if you reach an agreement you think is fair, you may be missing out on benefits you deserve. If there’s a significant difference in incomes or if there are children involved, you may want to enlist the help of an attorney to ensure that you are getting a fair outcome from the divorce.

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