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Why do-it-yourself divorce kits may not be a bright idea

As divorces become increasingly more complicated, so does the paperwork and stress involved. Although it is true that divorce can lead to some serious expenses for the couple, the complications of the legal proceedings make hiring professionals more advantageous in sorting out property division, alimony, child support and custody and all other agreements.

This is probably why a recent Texas Supreme Court move to allow the use of an approved boilerplate divorce form or "do-it-yourself" kit is not very popular among legal professionals. Other states offer a similar template form, which is designed primarily to assist lower income couples and, at the moment, couples without children or notable properties whose divorces should be more simple than couples with more assets. Instructions are available and only require users to input the needed information into the form. A family court judge then signs and makes the decree enforceable.

According to legal experts, a divorce do-it-yourself kit may not apply in every state because each divorce is unique. Even if neither party contests a divorce, there are aspects that need to be discussed and a "one size fits all" kit just cannot accommodate that.

While the forms are designed to help the poor, the forms are still available for everyone to use. The key concern is the possibility of applicants failing to account for all assets in a divorce, resulting in deceptive hidden assets and one party receiving a bad deal, which likely would not happen if attorney were involved.

In theory, the idea sounds good as it provides parties with a step-by-step procedure on how to file for divorce on their own. While the process sounds very simple, it is the execution that may give couples a headache. Costly pitfalls could arise, costing the couple more time, money and frustration than they otherwise would have encountered if they consulted with an experienced family law attorney who knows how to negotiate with parties to arrive at a favorable settlement and protect their clients' interests, whether they be personal, financial or child-focused.

Source: VictoriaAdvocate.com, "Texas Supreme Court offers do-it-yourself divorce forms," Jessica Priest, Jan. 24, 2013

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