Today, we are entering a post-consumer era, which changes our approach to purchasing a lot. Actually, we ourselves are changing, and the popularity of such lifehack-resources just goes to show it. A typical customer of the consumer era has considered purchasing as something which can determine an individual status and even the place in society. And though we are still far from getting rid of trends influence, a modern-day consumer is much more active.
The modern market is based on the principle of providing the customer with a choice. Whether this is an illusion of choice or not – is a separate discussion topic, but, say, the difference between Netflix and network television is noticeable, as is the fact that market trends are changing.
The fact is that having great access to information, we can be more conscious. It is not enough just to tell us that we should pay for something, because “that is how it works.” Although we observe obsession with new trends every day, at the same time, we have a choice to ignore them, cause we can understand their nature and purposes if we want to.
So, it’s no wonder that a person who can access the internet, is almost omnipotent if he has enough enthusiasm to learn more. Armed with youtube only, we can know how to survive on the desert island, build a computer, play instruments, learn foreign languages and so forth, not to mention some more simple and everyday things. And – here is magic! – even a great bulk of bureaucratic and legal procedures turned out to be not so incredibly complicated as it had seemed before.
So-called do-it-yourself divorce comes namely as a way to ease a divorce, and, taking bit more responsibility on ourselves, to save good money on lawyer fees.
Let’s find out how to arrange a divorce without an attorney so as not regret it.
In legal terms, DIY divorce refers to pro se legal representation, which means that in a court proceeding, the individual advocates their interests on their behalf, without lawyer assistance. Due to the U.S. court system data, the proportion of pro se litigants in civil cases, and dissolution cases, in particular, constantly increases from the 1990s. By 2000, many states have reported that over 50% of divorce and child custody filings had been arranged by the pro se litigants. Nowadays, this rate is even higher.
Self-representation is a constitutional right, so it is not new in the U.S., but speaking of divorce cases, it is quite clear why it became some popular right now:
- The lawyers’ fees are enormous, and they are charged per hour, so the lawyer’s benefit depends on the length of a proceeding. As a result, contested divorces take both a lot of time and money.
- Firstly, most spouses are financially self-sufficient, and the breadwinner-homemaker model is less common now. Secondly, divorce laws of most states do not imply favoring either spouse, and the alimony is granted only to those who cannot provide themselves for some valid reason. So, alimony, which has always been the central issue of contested divorce, does not require such attention anymore.
- Along with it, more people prefer to make prenups nowadays. Therefore, they know in advance how their property, rights, and liabilities would be allocated in case if divorce; they do not need a lot of time on litigation.
- If there are not a lot of disputed issues to resolve, then a divorce process is that the spouses should, roughly speaking, just find and fill out properly the necessary paperwork. So, when all the information concerning state laws and divorce filing rules is accessible as well as some helpful supporting services, there is no real need to contest the case and spend a lot of money.
You can do without a lawyer! What’s the plan?
1. Evaluate your opportunities
You should be aware that not every divorce can be successfully arranged without an attorney. We should admit it because when you do all by yourself, nobody can give any guarantees. For instance, representing yourself in a contested divorce is not a good idea, cause your spouse may, on the contrary, hire a qualified attorney.
So, your divorce must be uncontested. Both you and your spouse should agree to the DIY divorce.
Also, do-it-yourself divorce will be easier if you do not have huge assets or debts. So you do not have to deal with the separation of property and obligations. The same applies to children. If the couple does not have minor kids, an uncontested divorce is much simpler.
However! The spouses are still eligible for amicable divorce without long-drawn litigation if, having minor children or a significant amount of property, they can reach an agreement concerning all these controversial issues. “To reach an agreement” means to make a written and notarized arrangement which outlines all the partners’ decisions regarding divorce terms. This agreement must be submitted to the court, and the judge will approve it if it seems fair in the eye of the state law.
2. Find and complete correct divorce forms
Keep in mind that each state has its divorce forms. Moreover, divorce forms may vary by county. It can be difficult to determine which forms you should file in a particular case.
At this stage of the process, you may contact your county court or use the help of online divorce services. They are not free, but still much cheaper than attorneys costs for the uncontested case. Online divorce services are online platforms which can provide you with all the necessary paperwork for your individual divorce case. Their working principle is elementary. You should log in to the system and answer a short online interview about your case. Then the system may automatically draft the package of forms and documents which are relevant for all the circumstances of your dissolution. Also, they take into account the specific rules of your state and county if any. Usually, the completed divorce paperwork is available by email within two days, and the cost of the service varies between $120-400 depending on the company.
3. File the paperwork
Filing rules differ significantly from state to state. In some states, if the spouses do not contest their divorce, they may file the petition for dissolution jointly. In such cases, divorce usually takes less time; it is also called “simplified divorce.” If your state does not provide the Joint Petition for divorce, the plaintiff should file the Petition with the court and officially serve the other spouse with the copies of documents. Further, some states require a waiting period – the specific time during which the divorce cannot be granted, even if the spouses have already settled all the issues. If your state recognizes a waiting period, you can spend this time (usually about two months) on working on your settlement agreement. Typically, it should be submitted to the judge at the final hearing.
4. Do not miss the deadline
The finalization of divorce may occur in different ways in different states. You may be obliged to attend a final hearing or not, you may be required to go through divorce mediation or not, you may obtain the divorce decree on the first day after the waiting period, or the decision may be delayed due to the court backlog, and so on. The main thing is the same for all – you must be thorough when it comes to terms. The thing is that you may fail all the carried work due to the trivial missing the deadlines; the case may be delayed or even invalidated.
As you may see, DIY divorce is a regular practice and saved money, time, and nerves are worthwhile the attempt to cooperate with your soon-to-be-ex and negotiate regarding the settlement agreement. Keeping a friendly and civilized relationship between two former spouses is always for good, especially if they have children. Why not start it with a good uncontested dissolution, breaking a long-and-terrible-divorce stereotype, and saving money at the same time?