Don't Be Mislead By A Do-It-Yourself Divorce
On behalf of Susan O'Brian at O'Brian & Associates
A self-help divorce may be not be in your best interests, an attorney can make sure you avoid costly mistakes.
The United States has been through very difficult economic lows and individuals are still feeling the impact. As a result, many people are budget savvy and looking to cut costs wherever possible. In numerous situations, this is a wise decision. However, when it comes to legal matters, like divorce, you may not be doing yourself any favors. A do-it-yourself or self-help divorce seems like a great way to cut costs, but the truth is you may end up costing yourself more money in the long run to fix unexpected errors.
This is a real concern with the new plain language family law forms that will be released (for informational purposes) February 1, 2016 in Washington and available for use May 1, 2016. The forms were created with the goal that they will be easy to understand (both the forms themselves and the legal concepts). Having legal forms that are easy to understand is an excellent goal. However, divorce is not a simple matter of paper work and filling out the right boxes. It can be very complicated, particularly if you have complex issues to resolve. Unbundled services may be a good option if you are looking to do some of the paperwork yourself, while retaining the legal oversight and guidance of an experienced family law attorney. This can ensure that mistakes are not made that can be costly in the future to correct.
Pros of unbundled services and cons of a do-it-yourself divorce
The biggest advantages to unbundled services are costs and knowledge. Through this approach, you will have lower costs than if you were to retain an attorney for traditional litigation. Your attorney will only be paid for the work that is completed, which is a way to control the overall costs of the divorce. In addition, you are able to benefit from your attorney's knowledge and experience. Through unbundled legal services, you can consult with your attorney as needed for advice, guidance and oversight.
Alternatively, a do-it-yourself divorce has many pitfalls of which to be aware. Although the new plain language forms are easier to use and fill out, problems can occur without having the assistance or oversight of an attorney. Mainly, these issues arise due to a lack of experience, knowledge of the law and the divorce process. Here are some common problems that may occur with a self-help divorce:
- Failure to provide an adequate amount of information (too general)
- Failure to list all assets, including retirement accounts
- Failure to divide assets, retirement accounts and property properly
- Failure to provide enough information in your parenting plan
- Failure to set fair support payments
- Errors that make the agreement legally unenforceable
If you do decide to complete the paperwork yourself, it would be wise to have an attorney provide a review to identify any errors (at a minimum).
Contact an attorney to learn more about unbundled services
At O'Brian & Associates, we offer unbundled legal services as a fee arrangement option. This alternative can be individualized so that you can handle some legal tasks or documentation and we can handle others. It is a piecemeal approach that lets you control the costs of your divorce, while knowing that you can get input, guidance and review by an attorney to make sure everything is completed properly so you won't have any unpleasant surprises down the road.
If you are seeking a divorce and have been considering completing some of the work yourself, unbundled legal services might be a good option for you. Call (425) 276-7677 and speak to an attorney about this cost effective alternative. We can answer your questions and help you determine the best way to proceed with your divorce.