Divorce is something that couples rarely (or never) plan for, and when a couple decides to separate, it can be difficult to ascertain how to proceed. But nonetheless, divorces are relatively common, as more than 20,000 Michigan couples were divorced in 2020 alone. While the idea of a “do it yourself” divorce may seem appealing, especially to spouses who are splitting amicably, it’s never a good idea.
DIY divorces create substantial risks that will likely end up costing more money to fix than it would initially cost to use an attorney for your divorce. Divorces are also emotionally taxing situations, and the added pressure of handling the divorce proceedings without an attorney makes an already unpleasant situation much worse.
At Fieger Law, protecting our clients’ rights is our top priority, including in family law cases. In the same way as we would work to ensure a fair outcome for a personal injury client, we will fight for your rights in a divorce proceeding. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.
What is a Michigan DIY Divorce?
A DIY divorce is a divorce proceeding that is handled without the assistance of a Michigan family lawyer. In today’s world, there are many websites that advertise free or discounted services for providing blank legal forms that couples can fill out and submit on their own to the court system. Legally, these types of divorces are permitted in Michigan so long as the divorce is uncontested. However, ending a marriage is much more complicated than simply signing papers, even if the divorce is uncontested.
Risks of a DIY Divorce in Michigan
DIY divorces might be considered by couples who are splitting amicably to save money on legal fees in the divorce proceeding, but the risks created by DIY divorces will cost much more money to resolve in the future than it would cost to retain a family lawyer in Michigan during the initial proceeding. In short, the biggest risk associated with a DIY divorce is that some part of the process is completed incorrectly, leading to an extended legal conflict in the future.
Incorrect or Unfair Division of Property
Michigan law provides for how property should be divided between individuals in a divorce. Instead of the division being 50/50, the law states that property should be divided fairly and equitably, in a manner that accounts for income, fault in the divorce, and other factors. Even though separating couples may believe that they agree on how their marital property should be divided, when the division begins to occur, conflicts may quickly arise – especially given the emotionally charged atmosphere of a divorce. Additionally, divorcees may underestimate all the things that need to be divided in a divorce, as “marital property” extends to much more than the money in their bank account. It also includes the family home, retirement accounts and pensions, belongings, jointly accrued debts, and business holdings.
Because of the high stakes involved in property division, one spouse may attempt to manipulate the other into taking an unfair deal, and to end the process as quickly as possible, that deal may be accepted. By working with a family lawyer, Michigan divorcees can ensure that their rights and property are fully protected in a meaningful, objective way.
Child Custody and Support Issues
If a marriage involves children, the divorce must also account for how the children will be handled by both parents. Child custody arrangements must be written to state where the children will primarily live, in addition to visitation rights, child support payments, and any other factors that the couple wishes to account for.
In a DIY divorce, the risk arises that not all these situations will be properly accounted for, which could lead to extensive conflict in the future. Custody battles and lawsuits involving children are negative experiences for every party involved – including the children themselves – and cannot be handled on a “DIY” basis. Avoiding these issues on the front end is the best way to save the money for hiring an attorney and the emotional strife involved for the family.
Causing Your Divorce to be Invalid
In the worst-case scenarios, an improperly handled divorce could completely fail to take legal effect, meaning that you remain legally married to your spouse after you believe you’ve been separated. You may not discover the invalidity of your divorce until you seek to remarry, which is a massive complication for any new relationship. Working with a family lawyer ensures that your divorce not only accounts for all the issues, but also that it takes legal effect as soon as it’s over.
How a Family Law Attorney at Fieger Law Can Help
At Fieger Law, fighting for our clients is our top priority, including in divorce proceedings. While the idea of a DIY divorce may seem attractive at first to save some money, these arrangements can end up costing you a significant amount of money in the future when legal conflicts inevitably arise. Additionally, if one spouse begins to suggest a DIY divorce, they may only be doing so to influence the process.
A Michigan family lawyer at Fieger Law can assist you in ensuring that your divorce is completed in a fair, equitable, and competent manner that avoids future legal issues. We’re ready to help you and your family today. Contact us to set up a free consultation.