DIY Divorces: Think Twice Before Handling Your Own Divorce

December 30, 2016 | Divorce, Legal Perspective

Icon for author David Pollock David Pollock

In 2015, there were 2582 divorces in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania alone.  While there are no clear statistics on how many of those couples attempted to complete a do-it-yourself divorce, there are certainly countless websites and fill-in-the-blank forms suggesting that proceeding without an attorney is efficient and easy in addition to being cost effective.  But there can be numerous concerns and pitfalls when a divorcing couple tries to complete a divorce without an attorney, including:

  • Costs: On its face, a do-it-yourself divorce appears to save hundreds and even thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.  In fact, if you and your spouse agree to the terms of a settlement, it looks like a fill-in-the blank option is a smart choice.  Unfortunately, in many cases, the cost savings upfront can lead to significant financial losses down the road, including the loss of assets, a failure to obtain the amount of appropriate support that was owed and even a failure to identify all marital assets including financial accounts or retirement accounts.  Experienced Pittsburgh divorce lawyers know how common it is for a spouse to hide a financial account or fail to report all of his or her income in an attempt to reduce a support obligation.  If you try to complete a divorce on your own without an attorney, you do not have that second set of eyes looking out for your best interests.
  • Legal Rights: Without an attorney, do you know what assets or support you are entitled to receive under Pennsylvania law?  Have you considered all of the issues that may arise later such as college education costs for your children or the payment of their uninsured medical expenses?   Do you understand all of the tax consequences that may apply after your divorce is finalized?  Even if you feel strongly that a do-it-yourself divorce is a good option for you and your family, it is important to at least speak with a divorce attorney to make certain that all of your rights are being addressed.
  • Power Struggle: When one spouse is verbally or physically abusive, it is even more critical to have an attorney to work around the power imbalance and make certain that all of your legal rights are protected.  A spouse who was verbally or physically abusive during the relationship could try to force you into a settlement that is one sided against your interests.  Even in the absence of abuse, there can be a power struggle, such as when a spouse controls all of the finances or owns a business and fails to share any corporate-related information.

If you are considering a do-it-yourself divorce, or have even started to complete the paperwork on your own, speak to the experienced legal team at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, to make sure that your interests are being protected.  Our divorce attorneys can review your situation and determine if a DIY divorce is causing you unnecessary financial losses.  Call today at (412) 471-9000 to speak to one of our lawyers or use our online contact form.

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