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Is a “DIY” Divorce Less Costly than Hiring an Attorney?

If you’re considering divorce, you may be daunted by the potential time and expense it takes to wade through “who gets what,” from asset and debt distribution, spousal support, child custody concerns, paying for any expert you hire along the way, and much more. This might make you want to through your hands up in the air and decide to forego hiring a divorce attorney and hammer out the details between yourself and your soon-to-be ex. Naturally, anyone in your situation wants a low-stress, low-cost divorce, but there is a double-edged sword in pursuing the do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce route without having a skilled divorce attorney to help you.

The allure of pursuing a DIY divorce is clear – to cut back on expenses associated with the divorce process like legal fees for your respective lawyers. Not to mention, many DIY divorce services often promise a quicker, less stressful divorce; however, like just about anything in life, you get what you pay for.

Why the Negatives Outweigh the Positives

Does a DIY divorce seem too good to be true? That’s because it probably is. The obvious “pro” of deciding not to involve lawyers is the possibility your divorce will be quicker and less costly, but the “cons” of a DIY divorce include:

  • No legal protection: If your ex is trying to get more than they deserve out of your divorce, you have no legal recourse to protect yourself without a divorce attorney on your side.
  • You could regret it afterwards: DIY divorce forms often oversimplify the process of legally ending your marriage. Remember that decisions you make in your divorce, such as child custody or property division matters, will impact you for years if not the rest of your life. Unless you can make truly educated decisions about your divorce without consulting an attorney, you should reconsider doing it alone.
  • Lack of enforcement or clarification: DIY orders usually don’t have nearly as much detail as one drafted by a knowledgeable attorney, and often this leads to enforcement or clarification issues – even for years. Unless you’re completely confident in how to handle various divorce-related issues, you’d be better off dissolving your marriage with the help of a lawyer.

The only situation in which DIY is the favorable alternative is if you and your partner are in total agreement about all aspects of your divorce. Obviously, it’s rare for both parties to have an amicable split where all the pieces of the legal puzzle are easy to put together. There are other options, though, and not all will put you into debt for years to come.

Mediation: The Lower Cost Alternatives to a DIY Divorce

So, you’ve decided DIY is not for you, after all, but you’re still biting your nails on how you’ll afford an attorney and various other fees associated with divorce. One favorable option is mediation. In this process, a mediator is assigned to help both you and your estranged spouse compromise on divorce-related matters. This process is often expedient and may only take one or only several sessions. One note of caution: A mediator cannot give you legal advice. You’ll need to hire an attorney if you are seeking legal counsel during mediation.

Sometimes a divorcing couple just can’t agree on the terms of their split – after all, you likely have an adversarial relationship with your partner and refuse to negotiate. When this happens, it’s important to have an attorney on your team who is experienced in handling amicable cases and one who understands how to mitigate the costs of your impending divorce.

At Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C., we help couples navigate divorce. To receive a consultation with the firm, please reach out online or via phone at (281) 612-5443.