Divorce can be an expensive process especially if you end up going to court. Some couples choose to file for divorce by themselves instead of hiring a lawyer or a mediator. Although this is admirable, it may not be as easy or as effective as it sounds. Things get complicated when you have children or you have assets. Here are some pitfalls with a DIY divorce.
Child & Spousal Support:
Child support is calculated with a formula that takes into consideration the incomes of both parents and the time each parent spends with the child(ren). In addition, a judge may adjust the calculated value based on special circumstances. Lawyers and mediators have access to DissoMaster™, a court-certified software program that calculates child and spousals support. DIY divorce couples make the mistake of “eyeballing” the amount to be paid for child/spousal support. The estimated price is almost always off and, if not resolved at the onset, it could lead to disputes down the line.
Division of Assets:
Most DIY divorcing couples don’t realize how hard it is to divide the property. It’s easy to divide pots and pans but how do you divide a family car? Even if there were two cars, who gets the newer/bigger car? What happens when you don’t agree on how the assets are divided? What about credit card debt – do those get divided 50/50 as well?
Parenting Plan & Custody
Some couples feel that they can separate the time they each spend with the child(ren) equitably: 50/50. However, life isn’t so clean-cut. Who gets the kids on Christmas? What happens when both parents want to take the kids on summer vacation? Worst yet, what happens if neither parents have a plan on what to do with the children during the summer months when there is no school?
It may sound easy to get divorced by yourself, but the reality of the situation is that divorce is complicated and messy. If you do it yourself, it is highly probable that one or both parties will be dissatisfied. In time, dissatisfaction becomes resentment and this will negatively impact your relationships with each other and with your children.
DIY divorces can work well with couples who have no children, little or no assets, and no debt. If you have any of the 3 (children, assets, debts) then you’re better off getting the help of a professional to help carry you through a divorce.