Irina Anissimova, CPA, CFF
We undertake DIY projects for various reasons, including excess of free time combined with the shortage of cash, arrogance and the pleasure of learning how to do something new. What is important to remember is that the best conditions for DIY ventures arise when the perpetrator has nothing or little to lose if the project fails.
Depending on the amount of assets and income of the parties involved, a DIY divorce may result in considerable losses immediately following or/and long after the project is seemingly successfully accomplished. The losses may be monetary, they may involve repeated court appearances after the divorce judgment is entered or they may (and often do) include both. In my experience, the losses generally come from the need to litigate support payments and arrears and originate in poorly formulated support provisions in the marital settlement agreement (MSA).
Most of the dangers associated with a DIY divorce stem from the insufficient knowledge of the law and legal process which is usually just enough to be dangerous. This results in poorly drafted documents, missed opportunities for obtaining information, various procedural delays, and losing arguments in court because of mistakes in introducing evidence, arguing, questioning and cross-examining witnesses.
Attorneys are expensive, but their knowledge and skills cannot be acquired overnight or by googling key words. There are also various ways to employ lawyers efficiently. Beware of ignoring these simple facts when considering making your divorce a DIY project