Do-it-yourself divorce is a practical solution for couples who choose to file a dissolution of their marriage by themselves. When the parties have mutually agreed to end their marital relationship, have no disputes for settlement, and don’t want to spend huge money on attorneys, then a do-it-yourself divorce can be considered an inexpensive solution. That said, the procedure has legal requirements to be fulfilled.
Keep reading as we tell you how to apply for a do-it-yourself divorce and its benefits.
When To Go For Do-It-Yourself Divorce?
Not every divorce case is expensive and stressful. In certain situations and marriages, a DIY divorce can be an ideal solution.
- Short marriage: Also called simple marital estate, it is a marriage with no or simple debts and assets included. When there are no trust funds, family business, pensions, or property, there is no need to hire an attorney. Both parties can have a meeting and prepare for the procedure.
- Uncontested divorce: It occurs when both the parties agree on the settlement, and they have no issues related to finance, child custody, or division of property. It does not include procedural requirements and may require no attorney if the parties agree to do the paperwork and other processes themselves (1).
- Marriage without children: It may not be possible to have a DIY divorce when children are involved. But if there are no children, there are no issues regarding the custody, expenses, or support, so DIY divorce is possible.
- No maintenance cost: When a spouse is unemployed or proves the inability to work, they may expect a maintenance cost from their partner. If both parties are working and earn equally, there are less likely to be any maintenance costs. If there are no costs, it becomes easy to choose a do-it-yourself divorce.
In the above scenarios, the settlement is reasonable and fair. Let’s now look at the steps involved in filing a do-it-yourself divorce.
Procedure For Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Here is the step-by-step approach to filing a DIY divorce legally.
Step 1: Set up a meeting
Divorce is a big step and cannot be done over the phone. Both the spouses need to set up a meeting to talk and prepare for the next step. You need to plan your meeting appropriately, especially if one of the spouses lives in another city.
Step 2: Gather information and draft agreement
Keep the photocopies of essential documents handy. They include the marriage certificate, pay slips, bank account statements, tax-paying statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, and property tax receipts.
Draft the separation agreement, including the terms agreed upon mutually by both parties. Once this agreement and the proofs are verified, the court would approve it by mentioning the case as fair and reasonable. On the other hand, if the court finds anything missing, it would reject the case, and you may have to do it again.
Step 3: File do-it-yourself divorce papers
Fill the relevant paperwork, including petition and summons. It is essential to mention the grounds of divorce based on the laws. The no-fault laws vary from one state to another. Some states may even allow filling and submitting the forms online. You may visit your county clerk or the relevant website to know about it.
The do-it-yourself divorce petition has to be signed in the notary public’s presence. Along with the petition, a few other documents have to be prepared, including
- Settlement agreement signed by both the spouses
- Divorce decree
- Financial statements
- Non-military affidavit
- Child support worksheet
- Notice of hearing
Before submitting the original documents, make two photocopies, and keep one for yourself and the other one for your spouse. Pay the fees when submitting the papers. The clerk would verify the documents and submit them to the court.
Step 4: Appear in court
Based on the schedule, the case date would be notified to you and your spouse. It is important to appear in court at the given time and date. The court hearing is meant to check that you and your spouse have understood all the terms of the divorce, and it is your mutual decision. When the case is clear, the judge approves the divorce on the same day by taking your signatures. If any corrections are to be made, the documents would be sent to you, and a fresh date would be scheduled.
Benefits Of Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Here are a few benefits that one can reap from do-it-yourself divorce.
- Time saver: You don’t have to make multiple visits to the attorney’s office to arrange and draft the paperwork. Do-it-yourself divorce allows you to document the essential documents, draft the petition, and submit it. As both parties are in mutual agreement, there is no need to worry about solving disputes, which would take time.
- Cost-effective: The divorce filing fees vary as per the state in which you file the divorce (2). When you hire an attorney for divorce proceedings, the expenses multiply with each passing day. Do-it-yourself divorce allows you to save the money that would otherwise be spent on attorneys and hefty paperwork.
- Authority: You don’t have to fight for property to solve disputes in DIY divorce. Both the parties have to work mutually and settle the divorce matter by themselves, without allowing third party’s interference. You perform the procedure from the time of discussion to filing the papers, thus making you take control of the divorce.
- Co-operative: Both parties need not get into heated arguments and disagreements as they decided to end the marriage amicably. Do-it-yourself divorce can also be confidential as no attorney and third party is involved.
- Hassle-free: Mutual consent, less paperwork, low cost, and no involvement of attorney — all these make the divorce process quick and straightforward without significant interruptions.
Limitations Of Do-It-Yourself Divorce
- Due to a lack of knowledge about the legal proceedings of do-it-yourself divorce, you could miss out on an important legal step or paperwork. This can be usually avoided when you have a divorce attorney to help you.
- Although DIY divorce is mutually decided, it may result in giving an unfair benefit to one spouse. It may look like both partners are treated equally, but the end could be unexpected, leaving with considerable differences in terms of incomes or benefits. That usually happens when the parties miss to read out each term listed in the paperwork.
- When the couple has property or children, DIY divorce may not bring justice on the table to either or both the parties. Division of assets and property, child support, and child custody are laws that would require an attorney’s expertise and experience.
If you and your spouse are not happy with the marriage, do-it-yourself divorce could be an ideal option. Check if your case falls into the DIY category and read the legal requirements of your county and state before you begin with the process.
2. General Information About Divorce; Indiana Legal Services