The Perils of Opting for a Do-It-Yourself Divorce
We live in an on-demand, do-it-yourself world, with access to loads of information at our fingertips that allow many things to be handled without expert help. However, one thing that’s very risky to attempt to do yourself is a divorce. Though you may think you’re saving money, a DIY divorce can create more trouble than it’s worth and may in fact lead to greater expense.
Here are common pitfalls people encounter when seeking a DIY divorce:
- Not knowing which documents are involved — Division of assets and debts during a divorce can require changes to multiple documents, such as life insurance policies, retirement plans, investment records and property titles. If you are seeking spousal support, you’ll also need to demonstrate your entitlement, and if you have minor children, you’ll need to work out custody and child support arrangements, which means producing documentation of your earnings, assets and debts.
- Not knowing court rules and procedures — Divorce requires compliance with local and state court procedures, which can, and do, vary from county to county. Although states like Arizona have packets of divorce forms available, filling them out and complying with filing procedures is not always intuitive. Mistakes made in completing and filing the necessary forms and documents can cause delays or, worse, can cause your case to be rejected.
- Not understanding your rights or entitlements — Even if your divorce appears to be simple and amicable, it is not always clear how to divide up property in a fair and reasonable way that best serves your livelihood and that of your minor children. If you attempt a DIY divorce, you’ll need to rely on your own research and fact-gathering to understand what you are entitled to during the divorce process and what you may be giving up unwittingly.
- Failing to account for financial and tax impacts — Every divorce has tax consequences, from changing filing status to altering tax brackets. The greater the income and assets of you and your spouse, the potentially heavier the tax impact. For example, dividing real estate may trigger capital gains taxes. Splitting tax-exempt retirement accounts may create taxable distributions unless special measures are taken. By not accounting for these and other financial implications up front, you may face potential losses. In addition, you may find yourself locked in an argument with your spouse about who needs to bear that financial responsibility.
Consulting with an experienced Arizona divorce attorney can put you on the right track to avoiding these perils — at a minimum by pointing out the places where professional advice would be benefit you. In addition, having a qualified lawyer at your side can make your divorce much easier to get through.
If you are considering a divorce in Arizona, the attorneys of Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. are available to review your situation and advise you about all aspects of the legal process. Call 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a free initial consultation at our Scottsdale office.