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 proceed for a do-it-yourself divorce and its benefits.
When To Proceed With A 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: It is a marriage with no or minimal debts and assets. When there are no trust funds, family business, pensions, or property, it may be possible to not 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. If the parties agree to do the paperwork and other processes themselves, they may be able to proceed without assistance of an attorney (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 (also known as spousal support or alimony): 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.
Step 2: Gather information and draft agreement
Keep the photocopies of essential documents handy. They include the marriage certificate, employment information , 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 grant the divorce. On the other hand, if the court finds anything missing, it would reject the case, and you may have make corrections.
Step 3: File do-it-yourself divorce papers
Fill the relevant paperwork, including petition and summons. It is not essential to mention the grounds of divorce based on the laws. The no-fault laws vary from one state to another.
Some states may allow filing and submitting the forms online. You may visit your county clerk or the relevant website to learn the procedure.
The procedure and the initial filings vary state by state. Along with the petition, a few other documents may have to be prepared initially or at some point during the case, including
- Settlement agreement signed by both the spouses
- Divorce decree
- Financial statements
- Non-military affidavit
- Child support worksheet
Before submitting the original documents, make two photocopies, and keep one for yourself and the other one for your spouse. The court may require an initial filing fee when submitting the papers. The clerk will verify, accept the documents and submit them to the court or judge, if necessary.
Step 4: Appear in court
The court will keep the parties advised of any hearing dates. 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. If the judge approves your paperwork and testimony, , the judge may finalize the divorce on the same day. If any corrections are to be made, the documents would be returned, and a new date would be scheduled.
Benefits Of Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Here are a few benefits 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 resolving disputes, which would take time.
- Cost-effective: When you hire an attorney for divorce proceedings, the expenses may multiply with each passing day. Do-it-yourself divorce allows you to save the money that would otherwise be spent on attorneys.
- Authority: 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: If the parties agree to end the marriage amicably, they need not get into heated arguments and disagreements.
- Hassle-free: Mutual consent, less paperwork, low cost, and no involvement of attorney — all these make the divorce process quick and straightforward.
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