4 Unexpected Costs of a DIY Divorce

When spouses separate, they know it’s going to be an expensive and emotional process. Before their divorce is finalized, they need to split their assets and debts, decide on spousal and child support payments, and build new lives based on a single income. As a result, some divorcing spouses wonder if hiring lawyers to represent their case is truly worth the additional legal fees.

Because the internet is such a wonderful provider of information, anyone can learn anything about the divorce process. However, this doesn’t mean they can successfully navigate it. While you can represent your own case, it’s always preferable to retain the services of a knowledgeable attorney who can represent your best interests and negotiate on your behalf. Plus, a divorce lawyer can guarantee that any necessary paperwork is accurately completed and filed correctly. It’s not uncommon for misfiled and incorrect paperwork to hold up the process!

Before you start the filing process, please consider how a “do it yourself” divorce may not be a cost-effective and stress-free option.

Cost #1: Tax Consequences

Divorce, like all things, comes with complicated tax issues that need to be considered and addressed by both spouses. For example, investment accounts and marital property can be heavily taxed when they are liquidated or transferred.

There is also alimony to consider. Spousal support payments are only tax deductible for the paying spouse. The receiving spouse must report any payments as taxable income. Likewise, the paying spouse may be severely taxed if they take out a loan to make a lump sum alimony payment.

Divorce attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of how state and federal taxes can impact your divorce. They use this knowledge to help their clients develop marital settlement agreements that take these costs into account. If you want to be financially prepared for single life, hire a lawyer.

Cost #2: Budgeting Problems

Divorce is an incredible difficult transition for most spouses. When the process is finalized, they must adjust to both singlehood and a single income. Plus, it can be daunting to start a new life while paying for obligations from your marital settlement. An experienced divorce lawyer can mediate support payment negotiations and help you budget for your new life.

Cost #3: Child Support Payments

When spouses research child support information, they are often confused by conflicting information. Legally, child support is intended to provide for a child’s basic needs and establish a financially stable living environment. Ideally, the child should be financially provided for as if both parents were still married.

A child’s “basic needs” may include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Shelter

It does not, however, cover extra-curricular activities, vacations, or expensive schooling. However, these are additional expenses that can be specifically accounted for in the marital settlement agreement.

An attorney can mediate child support negotiations and ensure the calculations are fair to both parents. While the court refuses any agreements that negatively impact children, they may not take the same care with paying parents who poorly estimated their financial situations. These paying parents might have trouble adjusting to a single-income lifestyle when paying too much in child support. 

Luckily, child support modifications are available in Florida. However, a successful modification is going to require the services of a lawyer. Only an experienced litigator can develop and present a reasonable modification argument that the court can accept.

Cost #4: Splitting Assets & Debts

In many “do it yourself” divorces, spouses split their assets without considering separate and marital property. The court typically accepts whatever agreement a couple settles on, so it’s important that you split your assets accurately and fairly.

In Florida, property is separate if it was owned prior to the marriage, inherited, or given as a gift. Otherwise, all property is considered jointly owned by both spouses unless there is legal documentation or a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise. Without an attorney, assets, property, and debts may be split disproportionately. This could place either spouse in an unfortunate financial situation—particularly since some assets carry potential tax and penalty consequences.

Schedule a Consultation

Contact Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office if you have additional questions or concerns about the divorce process. With over 30 years of experience, our New Port Richey divorce lawyer has the skills and experience to help you effectively navigate the divorce process. When it comes to such an important legal matter, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Retain exceptional legal representation and pursue a beneficial marital agreement settlement today.

Call Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office at (727) 312-1112 to schedule a consultation.

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