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The dangers of a DIY divorce

In recent decades, people have become enamored with the possibility of completing complex projects by relying on only their own hard work. These “do it yourself” projects, often shortened to simply DIY, can range from minor home renovations to drafting a comprehensive estate plan. Unfortunately, complex, life-changing paperwork can have long-lasting ramifications for the future of your entire family.

Those attempting a DIY divorce should be aware of the risks involved. Numerous websites offer a DIY solution to complex legal matters. Unfortunately, there are often no legally binding checks and balances offered with this service. Many DIYers believe that if the court processes the paperwork, it means that officials reviewed the documents and found no errors. It’s not always that simple. Some scenarios might only come to light in the future, including:

  • Property division: Incorrect wording regarding property division and debt responsibility can mean that both exes could face financial liability on the mortgage. If these matters are not fully resolved during the divorce process, it can create future complications. What happens if the spouse who kept the home begins missing mortgage payments? What happens if the spouse who relinquished the home seeks to purchase a new home and the bank relies on the incorrect financial information to calculate the debt-to-income ratio? Incorrect wording in the property division can produce a negative, cascading effect.
  • Parenting plans: Individuals might think they see eye-to-eye with their spouse when developing a parenting plan that includes a visitation and holiday schedule. Unfortunately, as time marches forward, attitudes, approaches and priorities change. In a DIY divorce, parents might not allow themselves the leeway necessary to revise the custody agreement.
  • Complex finances: A significant part of the excitement surrounding the divorce is the prospect of beginning a fresh, independent future. In a speedy, DIY divorce, however, the couple might overlook or incompletely resolve numerous elements of debt responsibility. Shared credit cards and joint bank accounts might be easy enough to divide. But what of retirement funds, deferred compensation, stock options, medical bills or insurance premiums? These complex finances must be thoroughly evaluated in a divorce and divided by an experienced legal professional.

The lure to complete difficult projects on your own can be exciting. Unfortunately, there are often hidden risks involved. Even if you and your spouse are in agreement regarding how the divorce will go, it is still wise to seek legal guidance. That way you can avoid serious mistakes in your present that could destroy your new future.