There are some projects where it might be practical to DIY – divorce is not one of those projects.
As wonderful as the internet is, it does not, in fact, contain all the answers. Conducting an internet search of the marriage laws in your state does not give you an idea of how those marriage laws actually play out in the courtroom. And TV courtroom dramas are nothing more than entertainment and are not meant to give the impression that being an attorney is easy and anyone can do it.
As appealing as it might sound to be able to pay a single, small fee for all the legal documents you’ll need for your divorce, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s no denying the fact that attorneys cost money and many people getting divorced are afraid they can’t afford it. But the fact is they can’t afford not to hire an attorney to help them with their divorce.
When two people have been married for any length of time, they have formed a life together. They have combined, not just living space, but assets and possessions. If they had children together or were jointly raising children from a previous relationship, those children will be heavily affected by the divorce, and they deserve more than a packet of documents off the internet.
More often than not, trying to save money with a DIY divorce backfires, sometimes to the point of one partner having to file for bankruptcy after the divorce. If you weren’t trained to defend your case in a courtroom, you won’t be properly equipped to represent your best interests. Even if there’s no one more motivated to protect your rights than you, that doesn’t mean you know the best way to go about doing so in a courtroom.
By insisting on a DIY divorce, you could unintentionally get a bad deal for yourself when negotiating settlements and end up with a far smaller settlement than an experienced divorce attorney could have gotten for you. If children are involved you could end up with less parenting time and/or less alimony than you are owed.
And are you aware of the developing laws regarding pets in divorce? Some state divorce laws are starting to treat pets more like children (since their owners certainly do), but Illinois still treats pets like property – meaning, if you both acquired the pet during the marriage, the pet will be divided along with the furniture, heirlooms, etc. If you and your spouse acquired a pet together and you want to make sure the pet stays with you, you’re going to need a competent divorce attorney on your side.
Many couples who try a DIY divorce end up back in the courtroom a year or two later to sort out all the things their DIY divorce missed or failed to handle properly. That costs more time and court fees, and they’ll probably end up having to pay the attorneys’ fees they were using the DIY divorce to avoid, only now the fees will be much higher because the attorney will require more time, effort, and resources to sort out the mess made by the DIY divorce. Obtaining your rightful property will be that much more difficult if you’ve already given it away because you didn’t know how to best represent your rights in court.