Areas of Practice
YOU CAN GET A DIY DIVORCE, BUT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T
These days you can do just about anything online, including buying high end consumer electronics, getting expert advice on everything from pet care to family health, and, at least in the state of Pennsylvania, even start the proceedings for a divorce. In this state, the court system makes it possible for people that want to get a divorce to never consult a lawyer or set foot in court.
Of course, this means that you are making a lot of potential assumptions, and that you are forgoing any court officiation or legal expertise. So should you do it? The safe is answer is “No,” and there are several reasons for that.
Essentially, a “Do It Yourself” divorce means that you draw up a file for divorce, notify the Pennsylvania legal system this is occurring, then “serve notice” to your spouse within 30 days of filing the complaint. Once the spouse acknowledges the receipt of the complaint, you can sign a divorce agreement, either one of your own making or one following guidelines the state has available, and then undertake the legal, financial and family divisions that may be necessary. After a 90 day period, you may file the remaining required paperwork, and then the divorce is considered final and complete.
All of this however, means you are working under complete and total trust of not just your own ability to study and abide by divorce law, but have faith in you and your spouse’s ability to make a fair accounting of aspects of your relationship such as finance, property and child support issues, and amicably divide these facets of your relationship to everyone’s satisfaction.
Realistically, very few people can do this.
Even if there is mutual consent and good relations between partners despite the divorce proceedings, it is always a good idea to at least consult an experienced family law, or divorce lawyer to look at all legal, financial and family options and obligations, and see if the agreement is really equitable for both sides. There may be certain aspects of family or financial law that neither partner is aware of that could impact how the divorce works, but an experienced attorney will be aware of these hurdles right from the start and know how to steer clear of them.
Not every divorce needs to be messy, full of friction and end in court drama. But even the ones that are amicable can still benefit from the guidance and knowledge of a good divorce attorney to ensure all laws are obeyed, and everyone is treated fairly.