Terms related to divorce are some of the most frequent searches by Long Islanders on Google. Of course couples on Long Island want to find ways to avoid spending a fortune on their divorce, or find a way to have the quickest and easiest divorce possible. They might come up with search results for Do-it-Yourself (“DIY”) Divorce and suddenly have hope that the divorce process might be easier or less expensive than they anticipated. While DIY Divorce has worked out well for some, it is also known to carry its own set of risks and pitfalls. It is also not for everyone. Read on to learn about DIY Divorce and the risks involved.
What is a DIY Divorce?
DIY Divorce on Long Island is a process by which a spouse who wants a divorce can fill out forms, follow a set of instructions, provide documentation according to a checklist, and file paperwork with the court in Nassau County or Suffolk County. DIY Divorce is for uncontested divorces, meaning that you and your spouse must agree on what happens to your property and finances in the divorce, and you both agree that divorce is inevitable and consent to the divorce.
The concept of DIY Divorce might give the impression that divorce is simple. However, as you can see, the likelihood that you and your spouse agree on divorce and all the terms of it is rare. And, on top of this, you might be overlooking important aspects of your divorce that could cost you financially or even more when it comes to your children.
Seek Legal Advice to Protect Yourself
For these reasons, even if you choose to go the DIY Divorce route, it is imperative that you get legal advice to ensure that you are covering all bases and protecting yourself in the process. At the very least, having an attorney prepare or review your petition will help you to avoid making a significant mistake at the onset of the process that can cost you later on.
Without an attorney, you will not be able to get quality legal advice nor will you have your divorce questions answered and your worries quelled. You will not have an attorney to negotiate on your behalf or advise you of your rights or entitlements that you may have overlooked. When you are considering DIY Divorce, consider also how a simple oversight or mistake can affect your financial future.
DIY Divorce Can Work for Completely Uncontested Divorce
The most typical case where DIY Divorce can be used is in an “uncontested” divorce. An uncontested divorce is when you and your spouse agree on all the settlement terms. However, even in cases where you and your spouse agree on every single term (which, depending on the complexity of your divorce, can be extremely unlikely), getting legal advice ahead of time will ensure that you have covered all bases and that the process will go smoothly. This can save time and even money in the long run. You can learn what to expect in the process of divorce and possible consequences of your settlement terms. It can give you peace of mind going forward as well as a safeguard from negative surprises in the future.
DIY is Not for Contested Divorces
With that being said, if your divorce is “contested,” meaning you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, including those regarding division of property, spousal maintenance, and child custody and visitation, it is especially important that you consult with a lawyer to help you understand your legal rights, answer your questions, and represent your interests in the contested matter.
Even if this is not your first divorce, you do not have the same legal knowledge as an attorney who handles divorces on a daily basis. A Long Island Divorce Attorney is familiar with the court process, the “what,” “when,” and “how” to file in court, the rules for service of process, the timelines, relevant arguments, and best settlements to make that will best serve you and your family.
Further, even if you avoid paying for your own attorney, you could still end up responsible for your spouse’s attorney’s fees. Courts in New York have discretion to award legal fees when warranted. The fact that you do not have an attorney in your DIY Divorce could slow down the process significantly enough to warrant the award of legal fees and extra expenses to your spouse.
Consult an Experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney Before DIY Divorce
If you are exploring DIY Divorce for yourself, first give yourself the opportunity to consult with an experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney who can help you to recognize the benefits and/or the drawbacks of going it alone in your specific case. The Divorce & Family Law Office of Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C. offers free initial consultations, so you risk nothing by coming in to get basic information and professional insights into your unique set of circumstances. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910 to schedule your free consultation to help you make the most informed decision about how to proceed in your Long Island Divorce.
Download Your Free New York Divorce Guide
Our 41-page “Guide to New York Divorce: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in New York” written by an experienced family law lawyer, Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., provides you with real information on the divorce process and the laws it rests upon in the state of New York. This book will help give you a solid foundation upon which you can begin the process of making your family’s, life better.