Do It Yourself Divorce: Pros and Cons
Divorce can be expensive. Many people opt to navigate the process on their own to avoid the potentially high price tag attached to hiring a lawyer for their divorce. Whether seeking a simple, low-conflict process or trying to avoid a divorce attorney’s high fees, people often turn to the Internet to search Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions.
Annually, more than 34,000 people become pro se litigants (pro se is Latin for “in one’s own behalf”) in Colorado. Nearly 75% of all domestic relations cases are litigated pro se, making Colorado’s court system increasingly overburdened. Inexperienced litigants trying to use DIY websites may make mistakes with no easy fix in divorce court. Failure to comply with court and case rules can have serious consequences that could damage your case. In the end, this can cost you more time and money than if you had hired an attorney to do it right the first time. Ultimately, it may also delay your transition from marriage to starting your new life.
Filling Out and Filing Divorce Papers: Common Challenges
One challenge that many individuals experience is a lack of guidance from the judicial system throughout the process. Colorado has many publicly available court forms online; however, they are general in their content and may not provide the best protection. Similarly, the state court rules and those issued by the judge during the case are extensive and lack context to those unfamiliar with the process.
An attorney will ensure that all necessary divorce papers are filled out and filed correctly and that all deadlines are met. However, in the absence of legal counsel, no one in the court keeps tabs on your filings to ensure they are complete and accurate or reminds you to meet pre-trial deadlines for conducting discovery and filing witness disclosures. Likewise, the onus is on the parties to ensure that all financial information and information pertinent to the divorce is disclosed and presented correctly. Those attempting a DIY divorce often complain that they had no way of knowing what they did not know, or, rather, they had no way of knowing if anything was missing. However, an attorney is familiar with the system and necessary filings, ensuring that all aspects of your divorce are addressed.
Pro Se Divorce: Colorado Child Support and Custody
Some issues surrounding divorce are so complicated that they routinely require the help of an attorney. DIY divorce websites may not be the best source for legal guidance about your unique situation or need. For example, state guidelines govern issues of child support, and the law is complex and confusing. Additionally, specific language may be required to spell out who pays for extras, such as summer camp, ballet lessons, etc. Whatever the situation, it is crucial that these documents receive a comprehensive review by an experienced family law attorney. Likewise, experienced legal counsel can help you develop a parenting plan that meets your child’s or children’s best interests.
Pro Se Divorce: Colorado Maintenance
Misunderstandings about maintenance calculations and disagreements about future living expenses can create roadblocks in attempting a low-cost, trouble-free divorce. Again, the State of Colorado has resources and guidelines to help, but the maintenance statute is also complex and requires careful analysis when applying the rules to the specific facts of your case. Most important, the drafting of language concerning maintenance will impact whether maintenance is modifiable or contractual. A mistake made in the drafting of a maintenance provision could have a substantial, expensive, and irreversible impact.
Indeed, initially, DIY divorce apps appear to save money, especially if your divorce is uncontested and straightforward. An app may help you through a faster, easier, and less expensive process compared to traditional divorce. Yet, when problems arise, the need to contact an attorney for additional legal guidance could make your DIY divorce less cost-effective than initially thought.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Family Law Lawyer
If you are ready for a divorce, you do not have to navigate the process on your own. As an experienced Colorado Family Law Lawyer, I will review the specific facts and circumstances of your case to determine the most effective process. Whether you choose mediation, divorce through the court, or a DIY solution, my commitment is always to respect the ethical values of justice, honesty, empathy, and respect. Please contact me today to be better informed about your options.