It is never a wise decision to attempt to resolve your own divorce. Regardless of how much you believe that you and your spouse are on the same page about your uncontested divorce, it often turns out that you may disagree on quite a number of important issues. One may seek a divorce without the assistance of any attorney but it is not advisable.
There are website from which one can purchase boilerplate documents. These sites make it seem as if there is nothing to divorce other than filling out a few forms and filing them. You could pay your fees, download the documents and then you would be on your own to figure out what to do next. These sites also have forms related to financial disclosure, child support and alimony. The forms are simply waiting to be filled out; however, they do not contain the answers you need. They will not offer you the support or the benefit of years of experience gained from helping countless other couples dissolve their marriage. There is no way to ensure if the paperwork you have purchased comports with current Maryland divorce law, which changes all of the time. How will you know if there are items missing from your paperwork that could potentially put your financial future in jeopardy?
Making child custody decisions
Do you and your spouse have children? Deciding who will get primary residential custody of the child, and the amount of child support to be paid, are important decisions, and one of the more challenging aspects of most divorces. Who will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance? Which parent will make decisions about where your child will go to school? If you have never drafted a parenting plan – which details a visitation schedule, as well as other details pertaining to the child’s education, health, and extracurricular activities – you may not realize just how many more decisions you have to make.
Grounds for divorce in Maryland
In Maryland, you must have grounds (legal reason) for the divorce. There are fault-based grounds such as adultery, desertion, cruelty to spouse or child, conviction of a felony or insanity. Recent changes in Maryland divorce law now allows couples without children to bypass the former 12-month separation requirement to obtain a no-fault divorce if they have executed a separation agreement. A skilled divorce lawyer can help you find the best resolution.
Has your spouse hired an attorney?
Representing yourself when your spouse has hired an attorney puts you at a distinct disadvantage. Without a thorough knowledge of Maryland divorce law, or keen negotiating skills, you will not be able to obtain as fair an outcome as you would if you had your own representation during the divorce. In truth, most judges in Maryland’s family law courts will urge you to seek representation, especially if your spouse has a lawyer.
How will you handle the issue of alimony?
The purpose of alimony is to enable a spouse to become self-supporting. Temporary/rehabilitative or permanent/indefinite alimony may be awarded. There are numerous factors used to determine if alimony is appropriate, who will pay it and for how long. Without the support of an experienced, Maryland divorce attorney, you will be unaware as to what is available, and how any agreement reached regarding alimony will impact your future finances.
When you divorce, the property accumulated during your marriage will be divided equitably. Without knowing how to determine what is marital and non/marital property, you may be unable to determine who keeps the primary residence and all of the other assets that you have accumulated during your marriage. Even with the services of a lawyer, the asset division process can be fraught with conflict. Navigating this process on your own leaves you vulnerable because of your lack of knowledge about Maryland divorce process and what is available to you.
The best way to avoid the disasters that could take place with a DIY divorce is to hire an experienced, Maryland divorce attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, P.A. You will enjoy the benefit of a supportive legal team that will protect your interests and make sure that you get the best settlement possible. In your attempt to save money by doing it yourself, you may end up making unfortunate choices that will have a negative impact on your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case in our Annapolis office today.