We put up an infographic on how to get a divorce, but does that mean you should do it alone? If you truly have a simplified dissolution without any large assets, martial debt, or kids, I would say you probably can. However, if you and your spouse haven’t worked everything out, have large assets (house, car, 401k, bitcoin, etc.), or have kids together (or on the way) then I would not suggest doing this alone.
I’ve seen a fair amount of clients come in a couple of years or even many years after an initial divorce action was done and granted by the Court. The clients come in asking for a modification or clarification of the original divorce because something wasn’t thought of. These are often glaring mistakes to someone who practices in the field. Unfortunately, often times those clients spend more money fixing the mistakes they made because they did not have an attorney. To their credit, many times they don’t even know they were making a mistake because they thought they knew how to cover it on their own.
I’ve seen this in things as simple as equitable distribution. For example, you and your soon-to-be-ex have assets and debts and you agree to split them all 50/50. You write it up and sign it. Done! Right? Wrong.
If you haven’t outlined each and every asset individually and assigned a value to it (even on things that are difficult to do – for example, a non-vested asset) you will be re-litigating your equitable distribution for years to come. Neither of you will have felt like you won and you will spend thousands of dollars which didn’t need to be spent.
This is especially devastating when children are involved. Practitioners have spent hours upon hours learning what is needed for the Court, the schools, and for people’s lives when it comes to creating a “Parenting Plan.” They aren’t mandatory but they make your life and your future so much easier. A seasoned practitioner is going to want to sit down with you and craft a parenting plan which will last for many years and hopefully account for the foreseeable future. This is the kind of thing that you on your own may think you can do, but in reality may not be able to.
For example, I have had parents who say, well we split time like this and we want to do it like that when they start grade school. Great, sure, but what if one of you moves within the 50 miles allowable but it changes the school district you’re zoned for. What then? Have you talked about it? Probably not. But your lawyer will have thought of it and addressed it in a good parenting plan. What about holidays? Those are a beast for intact families but when it comes to not killing yourself, your ex, or, God forbid, your kids during those stressful and loved holidays you need to address them.
Ultimately, I do not recommend you get a divorce on your own. Even if you think you know how to do the steps, no one wants to see you having to re-litigate your divorce over and over because of mistakes that could easily be avoided.