Law Offices of Anne Fokstuen


Family Law Today


The Risks Involved In The Do It Yourself Divorce

If you are thinking of getting a divorce in California, you have the choice between hiring a lawyer to handle your divorce and representing yourself. With standardized forms available online, the choice may seem easy.  If you represent yourself, all you have to pay are the filing fees.  If you hire a lawyer you still have to pay the filing fees and you have to pay the lawyer to handle your divorce.  But hiring a lawyer can save you a lot of headaches and may end up being less expensive than a do it yourself divorce.

If you do not have a lot of assets, you may think that the do it yourself divorce is the solution for you.  But unfortunately, that may not be the case.  Even if your soon to former spouse agree on everything, you may still end up being burned by the do it yourself divorce and end having to hire a lawyer because you did not fill out the forms correctly or you did not know what you needed to do in order to get the results you wanted.  The forms look simple but unfortunately they do not explain all the steps that may be involved to get the result you want.

If the divorce paperwork you file do not account for the assets you won with your spouse you may have a problem.  Because just signing a quitclaim deed is not enough to resolve all the issue with a house and a divorce that does not involve a QDRO can make it very expensive to divide a pension after the fact.  In the end, a simple do it yourself divorce could end up with both you and your spouse having to hire lawyers after your divorce is finalized in order to undo the unintended consequences of your divorce.

So if you are thinking of getting divorced, you should consult a lawyer.  If you don’t agree with your spouse on everything you really need to talk to a lawyer to find out what your rights are.  Even if you agree with your spouse on everything you should still consult a lawyer because the do it yourself forms won’t tell you how to account for stock options, a house, a car or any other kind of joint assets that you own with your spouse in the divorce.  The forms won’t answer your questions, but a lawyer can, and a lawyer can help you make sure that the agreement you sign with your spouse does what you want and protects your interest.  Because the last thing you want after you are divorced is to have to hire a lawyer yo try to undo the effects of the divorce you just finished or work around problems created by your divorce.

Anne Fokstuen