There is a psychology behind the need to be a do-it-yourselfer. Some call it “the IKEA effect,” meaning that people place a higher value on something they create themselves. Thanks to the internet, there are guides and tutorials for everything from building a doghouse to drafting a DIY divorce.
DIY projects can be very satisfying when things go well. Unfortunately, a few unpredictable mistakes can quickly turn something DIY into an epic fail. If you skip a step when building a doghouse, it’s unlikely that anyone will notice or care. However, if you make a mistake creating a DIY divorce, there could be major ramifications. For years. For your children, you and your former spouse. Wait. Is it worth the DIY risk?
Advantages of a DIY Divorce
At first glance, the likely advantage of a DIY divorce is saving money. Although the court’s mandatory filing fees can’t be avoided (currently in Maricopa County, the cost to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is $349.00), a DIY divorce will initially avoid, or at least significantly reduce, what you might pay in up front legal fees. Compared to a traditional, litigious divorce, you can potentially save a lot of money with a DIY divorce. So it seems.
A DIY divorce may be advantageous if you:
- Agree with your spouse about everything including property division, child parenting time and legal decision-making authority, child support and spousal support (alimony).
- Completely trust your ex-spouse. You don’t suspect hidden assets or debts.
- Have the time, knowledge and attention to detail to complete the necessary paperwork.
- Are able to research Arizona state law regarding complete court filings and appearance requirements.
Given the perfect situation, a DIY divorce might work for you. The trouble is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Remember when you were in high school—had it all “figured out”? perhaps later you recognized you did not. By attempting to handle your own divorce, you very much risk passing over essential details that could have a lasting impact on your future. Dollars, custody, happiness—all to save what you think is a ‘budget’ divorce.
Disadvantages of a DIY Divorce
Bottom line– there are many disadvantages of a DIY divorce. Your friends and family complain perhaps that divorce was “expensive”, there is a reason. Today, you may be feeling guilty or angry. You may make demands or concessions that aren’t in the best interest of your family going forward. Without seasoned legal counsel to guide you, you might get lost in the process of deciding what really matters in your divorce. At work, at church, at home—all of us “don’t know what we don’t know” unless we are experts in the field.
A DIY divorce is usually a poor choice if you:
- Are unsure of your legal rights.
- Are unsure of your spouse’s assets or debts.
- Can’t agree on parenting time or legal decision-making authority for your children.
- Can’t agree to the terms of the final decree.
- Feel you deserve alimony/spousal support, but you don’t know how much or for what duration.
- Feel uncomfortable without personal representation.
If your marriage ended with secrecy or fighting, a DIY divorce may only prolong that tension and stress. But opting out of a DIY divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed into battle. Before you decide to go with a traditional courtroom divorce, consider another alternative which can help save time, stress and even money.
Collaborative Divorce: An Alternative Option
If you and your spouse are willing to actively work together to brainstorm solutions, you should consider a collaborative divorce. This elevated version of divorce combines the best of all concepts. You get the benefit of experienced and trained legal professionals to guide you through the divorce while also having maximum flexibility to create a mutually agreeable outcome. No “judge” telling you what to do. Only you and your spouse “agreeing” what to do.
During a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will work with a group of collaborative professionals, including attorneys, communication specialists and financial neutrals. These professionals will help you come to resolutions for the issues your family is facing during your divorce. You can breathe easier knowing that they’re looking out for your best interests, and more importantly, letting you and your spouse make decisions that are best for your family.
There’s no such thing as a perfect divorce; however, a collaborative divorce will save time, stress and a lot of money while leaving you, rather than a random judge, in control of your family outcome. Are you now ready to learn more about collaborative divorce? Contact Best Legal Choices today.
Licensed for over 21 years in Arizona, Nevada and California, Craig Cherney is a different kind of attorney. He truly listens and solves problems rather than merely identify risks.