DIY + Divorce: Is It Right For Everyone?

 Carl Roberts
December 2, 2020

DIY + Divorce: Is It Right For Everyone?

Carl Roberts

Do-it-yourself Divorce (DIY Divorce) is easy enough when a couple has no assets, debts, or children.  However, if a divorcing couple has children and or needs to divide assets and debts, then DIY+ is the smartest and least expensive way to divorce. DIY+ is a means of getting divorced in which the divorcing couple does most of the work on their own, and then hires financial or legal professionals to help them make more informed decisions and to formalize their agreements.

There are two main pieces to most divorces: property division and figuring out co-parenting after divorce. There are also two main variables that dictate the expense of divorce: the level of animosity and the value of the marital estate. To be certain, most every couple, amicable or hostile, wealthy or not, is capable of handling most divorce to-dos on their own to avoid thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, in divorce costs.

For property division, regardless of the divorce process a couple chooses to utilize (alternative dispute resolution or court), the to-dos are largely the same for everyone: organize, disclose, negotiate, and settle.  Getting organized means knowing what is in your marital estate so you can have the full financial picture when you start to negotiate. Every state requires divorcing couples to make full and complete financial disclosures (incomes, assets, debts) to help facilitate fair and equitable property division agreements. 

Know this, divorce lawyers may charge several thousand dollars to get you organized and complete financial disclosure, and you still have to do most of the work collecting data and documents. But, for less than what most lawyers will charge for a 15-minute phone call, you can get it all done in less than a couple of hours with

In addition to savings thousands in legal fees and countless hours worrying about it all, as you get yourself organized you’ll start to realize how easy it will be to reach an amicable property division agreement. Organization helps ensure transparency, which is key to building the trust necessary to reach amicable and fair agreements. Once all the finances are transparently organized and disclosed, it’s time to negotiate who gets what.

For couples with relatively simple martial estates, property division can often be settled at the kitchen table.  However, for more complex and or larger estates, couples should consider hiring a certified divorce financial advisor (CDFA). If you already have your data and documents organized with SplitSmart, the CDFA can get right to work analyzing your financials in ways you haven’t thought of, informing you of tax implications and helping you plan for post-divorce life. 

Regardless of how far the couple gets on their own, when a well-prepared couple hires a mediator or CDFA, they will get their greatest bang for their buck from the professional because their focus will be on the important issues at hand.

If you have assets, debts and or children, the smartest and least expensive way to divorce is to take a DIY+ approach. Spend a couple of hours to get organized with, negotiate what you can on your own, and then hire a divorce mediator or CDFA to help you make smart decisions and to formalize your divorce agreements. 

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