The Pitfalls of the DIY Divorce

The DIY Era

The Pitfalls of the DIY Divorce

From home repairs to arts and crafts, you can find detailed tutorials online for almost any task or project under the sun. Divorce is no exception to this phenomenon. Due to the rising costs of divorce litigation, more and more couples are turning to online tutorials to do a DIY divorce. True, handling your divorce on your own can potentially save you thousands in legal fees, but it can also cost you as well.

What many online forums and websites don’t tell you about DIY divorcing is that what you don’t know can—and probably will—hurt you. Every divorce is different. What worked for one person might put another person in financial ruins. Similarly, online legal form templates could be sufficient for someone executing a very simple divorce but might not scratch the surface of what needs to be done for a complex divorce. To provide you some general guidance, here are a few common pitfalls of the DIY divorce.

What starts out as an amicable divorce can get really ugly really fast. Think you have most things figured out? Unless you are in complete agreement on all issues and ready to sign the papers, you could face some conflict. And once that conflict arises, it can be more expensive to have an attorney abate it.

Not understanding how child support and alimony works. Many divorces involve both child support and alimony, so I frequently hear about spouses who assume that they can get both. If you have a minor child together, a child support obligation will be calculated, but it’s important to understand what child support covers and what it doesn’t. Some parents assume once child support is figured out, all the costs of raising their child will be covered. In reality, child support won’t cover all the costs of raising a child, so you need to figure out how you will split the remaining costs, such as child care, insurance, and uninsured medical expenses.

Alimony is needs based, and it’s easy enough to calculate a figure you think you need to live off of. But New Jersey’s alimony law was recently reformed, limiting the how, when, and why of alimony awards. Because there are no rigid state guidelines for calculating alimony—every case is different—spouses can run into trouble when trying to reach an agreement on their own that will satisfy the needs of both parties.

Not knowing how to incorporate tax planning into the divorce. Many couples—even those with attorneys—fail to work together on tax planning, which will rear its ugly head come tax season. Don’t wait until you file your taxes to figure out who will take what deduction or credit. Get it in writing before hand. Divorces can make taxes incredibly complex, so you need to work with an experienced professional to avoid tax season terrors.

If you learn about New Jersey divorce law and have an amicable spouse, you might be able to handle some parts of your divorce on your own. But even in ideal scenarios, you should never sign any divorce papers without first running them by an experienced New Jersey matrimonial attorney. Only then will you know your rights haven’t been violated and the outcome of the divorce is fair.

Are you contemplating divorce in New Jersey? Williams Law Group, LLC can provide you with tenacious legal counsel to ensure your best interests are protected throughout your case. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.


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