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When-Consider-Do-It-Yourself-Divorce Divorce Law
When Should You Consider a Do-It-Yourself Divorce?
In a do-it-yourself divorce you draft the papers, file them with the court, and appear before the judge, but this isn’t what the do-it-yourself divorce is really about in many cases. If you have children, property, or other issues of possible dispute, a do-it-yourself divorce is really about working out the details of a fair settlement with your spouse.
When There Are No Disputes
When a marriage has been short, without children, and when there is no property or debt to be divided, a do-it-yourself divorce is an excellent choice. Some state courts have special procedures for this kind of divorce that are usually streamlined and quicker than a divorce with more complicated issues. Find out if your state has such a procedure and whether your divorce qualifies. Each state has different rules.
When more complicated issues are involved, a do-it-yourself divorce is still possible, but it is definitely more difficult. The spouses have to be able to negotiate and work out all the issues that might be disputed, such as child custody and support, visitation, spousal support, and property and debt division.
When a Do-It-Yourself Divorce Isn’t Recommended
There are some circumstances when a do-it-yourself divorce isn’t a good idea, and these arise when the parties aren’t able to negotiate equally and reach a division that is fair to both spouses and the children. If there has been violence in the relationship, if one spouse has been dominant or psychologically abusive, or if one party is deceitful about assets and debts, then a do-it-yourself divorce probably won’t work.
You can do a successful do-it-yourself divorce even if you and your spouse can’t work everything out on your own. It’s possible to get help from people like mediators and family counselors who can help you reach compromises and family therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, or religious advisors who can help you deal with the very real emotional issues that come up in the process.
It’s not only possible to get legal help without hiring lawyers to represent you in the divorce, but it’s something you definitely should do if there are legal issues you feel overwhelmed or confused about. If you don’t get legal advice you might work out a division that’s unfair, even if you intended to be fair. For example, if one of you is in the military or if you have pensions to divide or questions about capital gains tax on real property, you should consult an experienced divorce attorney or other expert.
Representing Yourself in Court
More and more courts are encouraging couples to work together and with mediators to work out all the issues in their divorce. Studies have shown that people who do that have a more amicable relationship in later years and fewer problems with children and property. Some courts, however, are still uneasy about people who represent themselves in complicated cases. A divorce judge has the responsibility to make sure the divorce settlement is fair to both spouses and that the best interests of the children are considered. A divorce judge can refuse to sign an agreement both spouses want. If you meet with this kind of resistance, you can hire an attorney to review your documents and appear in court for you. This will be much less expensive than hiring someone to represent you through the whole negotiation process.
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