Do-it-yourself divorce is when couples prefer to work together to negotiate their settlement instead of using lawyers. A DIY divorce is perfect for couples who have been married for a short period of time, or for those who don’t have children. If you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your assets and debts, then a DIY divorce can save you money, time, and emotional energy.
If you think this form of annulment might be right for you, keep these top 7 tips in mind.
1. Be Kind…
First and foremost, with any divorce, you need to be kind to yourself. Divorce is listed as one of the most stressful life events that a person can face. Take your time and don’t rush into a decision. If your divorce isn’t working, don’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes, no matter how hard couples try to make things work, a marriage can still fail.
Surround yourself with people who love and support you, and remember to stay healthy. Eat healthy meals and exercise. If your mind and body are fueled with the right kind of energy, you will be able to better cope emotionally during your annulment. A DIY divorce is much less emotionally taxing than going to trial, but it can still cause havoc in your life.
If you can, try to be kind to your spouse as well. This will help ensure that you can still have a DIY divorce without hiccups. Once couples start to argue, lawyers might be needed to help settle disputes. If you can keep things amicable, then a DIY divorce will be much easier to obtain.
2. Make copies of all documentation
If you choose to get your divorce papers online during a DIY annulment, be sure to make several copies of your paperwork, as well as all financial documents. The clerk at your local courthouse, your spouse, and you will each need to have a copy of everything. Having extra copies will ensure that you don’t lose anything and that everyone has exactly the documents they need. Always keep your paperwork in a safe place. You should have extra copies of each of the following documents:
- Bank Statements
- Salary information
- Tax returns
- Mortgage documentation for all properties that you own
- Insurance paperwork
- Documents stating what loans or debts that you have
- Documents pertaining to any inheritance that you might have
Once you have gotten all your paperwork in order and have made copies, be sure to put them in the correct order for easy handling. If you know where the right documents are, it will make things much easier.
3. Take your time
We can’t state this enough, don’t rush into any interim agreements. Be sure of what you are signing. Don’t feel pressured into signing anything until you are 100% sure. Remember that you and your ex might feel emotional. You might want to just get the paperwork over with, but whatever you agree on, could affect you for years to come. This is especially true if you have children, or if money is involved.
Don’t agree to anything verbally either. Your ex could hold this against you, or even worse record your conversations.
Always take your time and speak to those you trust. If you aren’t using a lawyer because you want a DIY divorce, speak to someone who’s been there. If you are still unsure, you could always have a lawyer check the paperwork before you sign it, just to make sure that you are not being swindled out of anything.
4. Negotiate directly with your spouse
For your DIY divorce to work, you will need to negotiate directly with your spouse. Set a date, meet up and talk about what needs to be done. By doing this, the process will be more efficient and effective than using a middle man. You can discuss how to divide your debts and assets and come up with a parenting plan (if you have children). Choose a time to talk when neither of you are overly stressed and are thinking clearly. By staying calm, you will be able to negotiate better and avoid the costly legal fees of a lawyer.
5. Research the laws of your state
When it comes to getting a DIY divorce, you will also need to research your state’s laws regarding divorce. For example, in many states, you can only file for a divorce if you have been living in that state for at least 6 months. Some states allow for no-fault divorce, whereas in other states you might need to prove that your spouse committed some form of misconduct.
Once you have done the research, you can find divorce papers online or at your local clerk’s office. They will be able to help you with basic questions that you might have. The court’s website will also have basic information such as the amount of the filing fees, clerk hours, and more.
6. Use an online divorce company
If going completely solo during your divorce proceedings frightens you, use online divorce services. They can prepare your paperwork for you for as little as $139. This might be easier if you don’t have the time to research which documents you need. Another advantage of an online divorce service is that you will have help from customer care whenever you need it.
7. Don’t use DIY divorce, if…
Your spouse is angry and vengeful. This could draw out the entire process and complicate matters. A DIY divorce works for those who want to settle their divorce amicably. If you can’t do this, then find a lawyer who can help.
A DIY divorce works for some couples, but it isn’t for everyone. Be sure that you can follow the tips listed above before venturing into this solo divorce option. If you are the right candidate for a do-it-yourself divorce, then all the best! May your divorce be quick, easy, and as stress-free as possible.