Can you do it yourself? Should you?
Yes! You can do your own divorce. Since How to Do Your Own Divorce in California, by Ed Sherman, was first published in 1971, millions of people just like you have done their divorces without retaining lawyers, so you can almost certainly do it, too.
Yes! You should do your own divorce. The legal process — and the way attorneys work in it — tends to cause trouble, raise the level of conflict and greatly increase your expense. No one should retain an attorney in any divorce case unless it is absolutely necessary.
- There are a few cases where you should not do your own divorce. You should retain an attorney if there is an immediate threat of harm to you or your children, or if your spouse is trying to hide or transfer valuable assets. You may need help if your spouse is on active military duty and will not sign a waiver.
In this Short Course, you will learn:
- Many things you can do for yourself that are far more effective than anything a lawyer can do for you.
- How to get help from an attorney in a way that will not increase the conflict and expense in your case.
Advantages of doing your own divorce
Better divorce outcome. Studies show that your active participation in settling your own divorce is the single most important factor in getting a good divorce outcome.
Good outcome means such things as better compliance with agreements and orders after the divorce, less post-divorce conflict, less post-divorce litigation, more good will, and better co-parenting.
People who take an active role generally do much better emotionally and legally than those who try to avoid the work and responsibility for solving their divorce problems. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get advice and help from an attorney or mediator — it does mean you should be actively involved, become informed about the rules and make your own decisions. Put yourself in charge of your case; run your own life.
Much cheaper. Perhaps the most obvious advantage to doing your own divorce, is the savings in cost. When an attorney takes your case, the initial retainer may be $750 to $3,500 or more, but the retainer is only the beginning. Be sure to ask, “Will this cover everything? What will my maximum cost be?” They won’t tell you, and that should tell you a lot.
Keeping it simple. Most people start off with a case that is either fairly simple or one that could probably become simple if handled right. However, such cases don’t usually stay simple after an attorney is retained.
It doesn’t take much to stir up a divorce, but lawyers tend to make almost anything more complicated, more stirred up, worse instead of better. This is because of the way the system works and the way lawyers are required to practice by their rules of professional conduct.
If one spouse gets an attorney, the other spouse is likely to get one too, and then the fun (and expense) really begins. Two attorneys start off costing just double, but pretty soon they are writing letters, filing motions and doing standard attorney-type things. Now we have a contested case, more fees and charges, and a couple of very upset spouses.
More than 90% of all cases settle without trial, but when attorneys are retained, settlement usually comes after the spouses are emotionally depleted and their bank accounts exhausted. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through all that anymore.
You now have better alternatives than retaining an attorney to take over your divorce. Follow the advice in this Short Course. If you need help, check out the books in our Bookstore, or use the assistance of Divorce Helpline. Give yourself a chance.
For more information, contact Divorce Helpline at 800-359-7004