We live in the age of DIY. You can watch YouTube videos to learn how to renovate your bathroom. You can find helpful posts on pinterest for turning an old worn-down dresser into a new, fresh looking one -- or how to turn a standard dresser into one that looks old. Yes, you can even complete your divorce in a do-it-yourself fashion, but is it a good idea?
It isn't uncommon for couples to believe they can achieve a DIY divorce for a myriad of reasons. The number one is that they want to save money by forgoing the use of an attorney. While this may seem like an optimal choice initially, the benefits of having a lawyer as opposed to attempting a DIY divorce are many. The primary reason for this is because, as versed as couples try to be in courtroom matters, mistakes occur.
Let's look at some of the most common ones made:
- Becoming house poor: Those who are about to divorce rarely want to leave their homes or disturb the lifestyles of their children. However, without obtaining advice from an experienced attorney, they may not know there could be unexpected capital gains from the sale of their home. They could also become house poor from the mortgage payments and tax responsibilities.
- No long-term goals: Thoughts on the short-term benefits, as well as the issues, are typically the primary focus of a DIY divorce. Because splitting up is an overwhelming situation, it's difficult to think of much else. However, with the advice of an experienced attorney, long-term goals can be set accordingly. That way, you don't leave to chance things like retirement accounts or other investments that pose a financial risk for your future.
- Revenge divorces: Some divorces occur with the ultimate goal being revenge and payback. Who can get the upper hand? These cases are difficult to mediate unless a lawyer is present. Rather than spending countless hours, and perhaps attorney fees, fighting it out with each other, it's best to listen to the practical advice a lawyer would give under these circumstances.
Are you considering a DIY divorce?
Some DIY divorces do end amicably, but there are still losses one or both sides experience that they never expected or don't find out about until years later. It's for this reason that consulting with an attorney is always a good idea -- even if only to review your proposed settlement. That way, a strategic plan can be created to set you up for a long-term settlement instead of just thinking about the here and now.