DIY Divorce – When a Cheap Divorce is Expensive

November 5, 2013 9:32 pm Published by Comments Off on DIY Divorce – When a Cheap Divorce is Expensive

Have you ever noticed how difficult most things are, the first time you do them?  Everything seems to have a learning curve.  Once you get past the learning curve, things that once seemed complicated or overwhelming become simple and easy to do.

Luckily, most of us will only live through one divorce.  In part that’s why divorce is so difficult.  We get no practice.  By the time you catch up to the learning curve, you never have to get divorced again.

If you are getting divorced in Florida you have some options:

  • You can do-it-yourself (DIY).  This works best if you have no assets and no children.
  • You can go to a traditional lawyer or a collaborative lawyer.  These options work if you think you need someone to protect you.  However, it’s likely that your spouse will also feel the need to hire a lawyer so as your lawyer is looking out for you, your spouse’s lawyer is trying to get the best of you.
  • You can hire a Mediator.  This option also allows you time to consult with an attorney, privately, before you sign anything, if you feel the need.  You can share this consultation (or not) with your spouse and/or the mediator.

Hiring an attorney means someone is there to help you along the learning curve.  However, many people are afraid of the attorney option.  They don’t want to spend a significant portion of their assets so that two lawyers can argue over how to divide whatever is left.  Or they are concerned that bringing lawyers in may damage their co-parenting relationship into the future.  So, they decide to do-it-themselves.  This involves engaging in a complex logistical and financial restructuring process, on your own, at a time when emotions may be charged and the future is unknown.  It’s easy to miss important pieces of the divorce puzzle when you are not familiar with how it works.  For some people, missing these pieces will ultimately be very expensive.

Before you go through with a DIY divorce, you will want to look at many factors.  These include, finding the best way to:

  • Transfer your car out of your spouse’s name and into your own name
  • Transfer ownership of life insurance policies so your children are protected
  • Divide retirement accounts
  • Divide debt so that each spouse is controlling their own credit
  • Divide bank, brokerage, and escrow accounts
  • Calculate accurate income amounts so that you can discuss alimony and child support payments
  • Handle paying for work-related day care, medical insurance, uninsured medical expenses, extra-curricular activities, clothing, and school supplies for your children
  • Share time with your children.  (In Florida we no longer use the word “custody”.)
  • Make sure the court actually holds a final hearing and dissolves your marriage.

Wait!!  There is another option.

If you and your spouse decide to hire a mediator, your mediator will give you information and present you and your spouse with a series of questions intended to cover all of the critical aspects of your divorce.  During the mediation process you may choose to investigate possibilities with other advisors.  And, then, ultimately, come back to the mediation table to decide the best path for your family.  In the end, many couples find that having a mediator to guide them through the process of divorce enables them save money as they make more informed choices.  Find a mediator near you.


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