Going through a divorce is a complicated process. Even setting the legal paperwork and court procedures aside, your divorce is your one chance to make sure that you have the money, property, and rights you desire once your marriage is over. While seeking modifications is an option, there are only limited grounds for modifying a final divorce decree, and in many ways the process can be just as burdensome as going through a divorce.
That said, a divorce does not have to be a burdensome – or even particularly challenging – process. While a DIY divorce may seem like the easiest and least expensive option, in reality, working with a divorce attorney is often the better way to go. Not only can working with an attorney shorten the process, but it can also give you peace of mind that your divorce was handled properly.
Reasons Not to File for Divorce on Your Own
Here are four reasons why we counsel our clients against trying to file for divorce on their own:
Protecting Your Property
Under Florida law, spouses’ marital assets are subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. This means that (i) you need to know which of your assets are “marital assets,” and (ii) you need to know what a court would consider “equitable” under the unique circumstances of your divorce. Without this information, you cannot be sure that you are getting what you deserve. You may end up with less than your equitable share, or, you may end up giving away non-marital assets that shouldn’t have even been on the table in your divorce.
Ensuring Adequate (and Appropriate) Child Support and Alimony
Likewise, determining appropriate child support and alimony payments requires a thorough understanding of the relevant laws. In Florida, the courts consider a laundry list of factors when determining spouses’ financial obligations, and with proper planning you have the ability to influence the weight of these factors both before and during your divorce. If you file a DIY divorce, you may end up receiving less than you are owed or paying more than your fair share.
Protecting Your Right to Spend Time with and Raise Your Children
In fact, the same holds true for time-sharing and visitation rights as well. These rights are determined based on the best interests of the couple’s children, and here too you have the ability to impact the outcome of the court’s determination. Without the advice of an experienced divorce attorney, you simply won’t know if your parenting plan truly reflects your legal rights.
Finally, if you file a DIY divorce, you can generally expect delays. Even the most careful do-it-yourselfers make mistakes that can significantly slow down the process. Not only can working with an attorney help make sure that you are protecting your rights, but it can also ensure that the process is over as quickly as possible.