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Do-it-yourself divorce is full of peril for the unwary

With a divorce, the devil is always in the details. Some people may think they have a straightforward situation, and that they can easily put together a divorce on their own. However, a do-it-yourself divorce is fraught with peril for a couple of reasons.

First, there is the emotional state of being involved in a divorce. Even if you believe you and your former-spouse-to-be can agree on the broad issues, the fact that you have resorted to a divorce to "solve" your relationship, you are still engaged in the project of dismantling your life and all of your entanglements with each other. Slights and hurts, big and small, are like landmines. You may avoid many, but you cannot avoid all.

Second, there is family law practice and procedure. Lawyers and courts have rules and procedures that must be followed. Fail to submit a document by the proper deadline? A court's response may be akin to, too bad, so sad.

Courts are very busy places, dockets and calendars tend to be full, and scheduling of hearings may stretch out months in advance. Because of this, courtroom time is rare and valuable and judges do not like to have their time wasted. They may appear rude and abrupt, simply because they do not have time, nor are they permitted, to provide legal advice to a confused pro se party.

Your divorce settlement will control much of your life post-divorce. Some elements will affect your life for years to come, and while they may be modifiable, there are specific rules and standards, in addition to requiring additional trips to the courthouse. Nevertheless, there are also parts of your divorce settlement that are difficult or impossible to change, and if you make a mistake, you may not be able to undo the damage later. A divorce attorney can help you avoid those mistakes.

Source: The Colorado Springs Gazette, "Do-it-yourself divorce could be cause for regret," Linda Leitz, March 10, 2013

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