Thursday, October 17, 2019

Information About Getting A Do-It-Yourself Divorce

March 6, 2011  

Many couples get divorced. More and more couples choose not to hire a lawyer for their divorce. Why? Cost, speed, publicity, and control. I’ll explain.

Cost: Divorce attorneys cost a lot of money.

Speed: Going to trial, or nearly going to trial can take a long time (I’m not saying every time you hire a lawyer it will go to trial, but it can).

Publicity: court actions are generally public. Do you want your divorce on public display (not that anyone really cares unless you’re a celebrity)?

Control: When a Court decides your case, you’re handing the decision-making to the Court.

Please realized that my referring to getting a divorce without a lawyer does not mean necessarily not getting legal advice. What I mean by hiring a lawyer is hiring a litigation lawyer that will slam your case into trial. It’s always a good idea to get some basic legal advice in the form of a legal opinion before you negotiate your divorce. It’s good to know where you stand so you aren’t vulnerable to a terrible divorce deal.

That being said, choosing not to hire a lawyer (for a full blown trial) requires cooperation between spouses. If cooperation is possible, then the steps that they can take for resolving the legal issues in their separation and divorce are as follows:

1. Couples can try to negotiate terms on their own. This frequently occurs in amicable divorces. If you avoid litigation at this stage, that is an excellent result. Wrapping it up is simply a matter of completing the divorce paperwork. Be sure to get the terms in writing in an agreement. But don’t give away the farm. If in doubt, see a lawyer.

2. Hire a divorce mediator: The best one can hope for other than reconciliation is a negotiated resolution. This can be achieved by hiring a divorce mediator. If mediation succeeds, the divorce mediator can prepare an agreement so the terms are recorded.

3. Each spouse in a couple hires an attorney but each instructs the attorney to focus on negotiation. Perhaps another mediation is attempted with attorneys involved.

4. If prolonged negotiation doesn’t work, you can try a mini-trial with an arbitrator who will decide the case (if available in your jurisdiction). It’s like mediation except the mediator makes a decision. You can agree that the decision is binding or not before-hand. Arbitration is a quicker and cheaper resolution than court. Lawyers aren’t necessarily required to represent you. However, if the other side has a lawyer, you probably want one as well. You’ll need to hire a lawyer to set this up in most cases.

5. If after all these efforts to resolve your divorce case, you may have to resign yourself to go to trial.

Always keep in mind that you can talk to a lawyer at any time if you’re at all unsure about what your legal rights are. Attorneys are happy to parachute into the process at any point.

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