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If parting is sweet sorrow then divorce must be candied heartache. And while emotions may run high and uncoupling couples may find themselves rounding the turn of a slow-motion roller coaster, there are great incentives to working together for an amicable exit. Tackling the legal black box of a do it yourself divorce can be just the collaborative project that both sides can get fully behind and commit themselves to-- allowing the door to close gently into a new beginning.
We have compiled a primer on do it yourself divorce for the savvy soon-to-be-singles to begin researching their options and devising a gameplan. Peruse through the steps and resources and cherry-pick the options that work best for you.
1. Considering Divorce
- Deciding Whether to Divorce make lists to think through the decision to divorce and impacts to those who will be affected
- Separation or Annulment Instead? annulment treats the marriage as though it didn't happen, separation has a few definitions and generally involves the couple living apart
2. Divorce Basics
- Divorce Do's and Don'ts a few things to keep in mind once you've decided to divorce
- Fault or No-Fault Divorce? fault divorces can be filed for specific reasons behind divorce such as cruelty, cheating, abandonment, inability to consummate
- Summary Divorce or Dissolution? some states allow a streamlined divorce process under certain circumstances (i.e. no children, minimum property)
- A Divorce Timeline starting from complaint to court order granting divorce, the stages involved in a court divorce
- Ask the Community still have questions on divorce basics? Consider posting a question to be answered by the FindLaw community
3. What is a Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is a structured, out-of-court process through which spouses can finalize divorce and take care of any support and property issues as well as devise a mutually-agreed upon plan regarding custody. It can involve legal professionals such as attorneys, child custody specialists, third-party accountants, as well as mediators.
- Divorce, collaborative ... Putting Two Together May Bring Big Benefits, Any Drawbacks? the good and bad of collaborative divorce.
- What Is Collaborative Divorce? basics of the process of collaborative divorce and 5 ways it can be beneficial in a divorce.
4. DIY Divorce Forms
- Divorce package includes all of the forms you'll need for an uncontested do it yourself divorce, along with detailed filing instructions and other documents
- Divorce Forms by State links to state court forms such as petition for dissolution, divorce packets, annulment forms, and other resources
- Joint Divorce Petition sample form with the language you'll need to to jointly file a divorce petition
- More Forms including checklists to determine eligibility for alimony, sample property settlement agreement, checklist for steps to take after divorce
5. Meeting an Attorney
If the divorce involves children, complex property and finances, and/or is contested or otherwise negatively-charged, a do it yourself approach may not be possible. To prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed and to engage a professional who can advocate your rights, consider consulting a local family law attorney. She/he will be familiar with state law and can guide you through the process as well as represent you in court. You can also minimize contact with the other party by tasking your attorney with handling all incoming and outgoing communications with the other side. And, just in case there is a chance for any collaboration, your attorney can also facilitate a settlement or agreement of certain terms.
- Find a Family Law Attorney Resources for finding a local family law attorney who can assist you with your divorce