Residents of Pennsylvania who are facing an impending divorce may feel tempted to try handling the paperwork and proceedings themselves. Obviously, this could save a considerable amount of money in legal fees, but it also lacks the legal defense of a trained attorney’s representation. If a couple is on extremely good terms and in complete agreement about everything, they may both benefit from pursuing this route, but how many couples on the brink of divorce can say that? Although a DIY divorce might seem less complicated at first glance, there could be various unanticipated problems.
Dividing marital assets
If you think that Pennsylvania is a “community property” state where divorcing couples split everything 50%–50%, you’re mistaken. For division of marital property in a divorce, Pennsylvania has adopted the “equitable distribution” model.
In this area, it is in your best interests to try to reach a fair property settlement with your spouse. If the two of you can’t arrive at one on your own, a judge will impose one. Many factors could contribute to that outcome. Points a court considers include how long the marriage lasted, the age and health of each spouse, the income of each spouse, the relative contributions made to the marriage and whether one party dissipated the assets.
This process is more complex than you might suppose. Will you sell the house? How will you handle a 401(k)?
Some divorcing couples mistakenly believe that they can simply agree on financial maintenance for the children. In the view of the state, the purpose of child support is the well-being of the children, not the parents. Consequently, the court will impose a plan. If you make the mistake of submitting an amount lower than that calculated by the standard formula, the court may reject it
Issues with where the children will live
According to FindLaw, issues like parenting time may come up. Even when parents are in broad agreement about the general outline of child custody, there may be sticking points that arise between them. A court will usually formalize the arrangement at any rate. Advice from a family law attorney can help you avoid time-consuming mistakes.
If you are contemplating a divorce, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who has experience with the process. You might find that this approach is actually smoother than trying to do it yourself.