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Divorce in the Recession: Do It Yourself?

Some have suggested that the recession could result in a surge in divorces, or actually even encourage couples to divorce. Certainly in the context of wealthy individuals, the recession has been suggested to be a good time (if there is such a thing) to seek a divorce because so many people's assets have lost so much value. However, for mainstream individuals facing nearly unprecedented levels of job losses, foreclosures, and other financial challenges, divorce might seem like an altogether daunting financial proposition.

As a result, individuals or couples who have made the difficult decision that it is time for a divorce might understandably be wondering whether they can save costs by handling a divorce themselves. And if they believe they can do so, they might also be wondering whether they should.

A couple can avoid some of the costs associated with the divorce process by opting for a "do it yourself" divorce. In a do it yourself divorce, a couple handles their own no fault divorce, without the assistance of attorney.  It can simplify the divorce process, as there are no lawyers involved, it does not require a trial, and participants sometimes do not even have to appear before a judge.

A do it yourself divorce is ideally an option when there are no major or complicated issues to settle between the divorcing spouses. Some issues for people to think about when weighing the viability of a do it yourself divorce include:

  • the ease with which assets and income can be divided;
  • the feasibility of splitting up the debts and liabilities of the parties;
  • whether custody and/or visitation of minor children would be disputed; and
  • whether an agreement on spousal support, if any, would be a stumbling block.
  • If the parties can reach a fair and reasonable settlement without the need for an attorney, there are many resources available online and elsewhere to assist the parties in filing their petition for divorce and going through the divorce process on their own. Below are some links to more information and resources on the subject.