How should we proceed if we don’t want lawyers involved?
Not all divorces are complicated matters. In some cases, the couple is in agreement on everything from the causes of the divorce to the separation of property. They may even agree on child custody issues. When this occurs, the couple can pursue what is commonly called a no-fault divorce, eliminating the need for a family court hearing and the retaining of separate divorce attorneys.
What A No-Fault Divorce Entails
1. Every state allows for a no-fault divorce, though the terminology may differ slightly. Alternate terms used to describe these kinds of divorces are irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or incompatibility. Whatever the exact phrase, there are often stipulations for pursuing this type of divorce, such as requiring the spouses to live apart for an extended period of time.
2. Once you and your spouse have met the criteria and wish to proceed with a no-fault divorce, you can download and print the petition and complaint for divorce from your state’s website. There are commercial websites that offer generic forms, but, before downloading those forms, ensure they will be accepted in your state’s courts.
3. Next, you’ll want to ensure both parties fill out the appropriate forms and sign where necessary. In filing the paperwork with the court, look for the name of the appropriate court at the top of the forms. It should say Superior Court, Family Court, etc. Usually, you’re able to file in the county of residence, either for you or your spouse. Either way, it’s advisable to call the court to make sure your information is correct on where to file.
4. You will still need to service your spouse with the paperwork and each state has regulations on how this is to be done. If the divorce is amicable, which it almost must be in order to take this route, you and your spouse can work together to satisfy the terms for service. In essence, you must be able to provide proof that you have given your spouse a copy of the divorce petition. This requirement is usually satisfied by having the spouse sign an acknowledgement that he or she received the divorce petition.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce Tips
1. It’s important to understand your spouse for this type of divorce to work. You’ll have to work together and, for that to happen, neither you nor your spouse can be harboring resentment and anger. Negative feelings will almost certainly derail a no-fault divorce.
2. Utilizing your local county clerk can be very beneficial. While the clerk’s office can’t dispense legal advice, they can give you access to resources and may even help you find a nearby law library.
3. Be prepared for the rigors of legal proceedings. While you may be able to achieve your divorce without involving lawyers, the same cannot be said of the court system. Your case will still have to be processed by family court, which means hearings, filing dates, and the submission of documents related to the divorce.
4. Be wary of changing tax issues that will go along with your divorce. The money you saved on hiring a lawyer might best be spent on consulting a financial advisor or tax preparer to discover how your divorce has affected your tax filing status. At the very least, consider visiting the official IRS website for their free resources on how divorce affects income taxes.