Divorce laws are complex. An experienced lawyer guide can guide and manage the process to protect each party’s interests. However, while it is common practice for couples to hire lawyers, a divorce without lawyers is attainable. Should you decide to get a divorce without lawyers, here are 6 tips to help you navigate the process.
1. Do Your Research
No two divorces are alike. Process-wise, be prepared to conduct in-depth research to discover what applies in your situation and jurisdiction. Many resources are available, especially online – but be careful to vet sources for legitimacy. Understand the applicable procedures, laws and related divorce provisions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. Remember that any decisions you make during the divorce process can have significant consequences, which may negate the benefits of not having a lawyer in the first place.
2. Collect and Organize Essential Information
It is important that you collect and organize all information related to your divorce. This includes personal, legal and financial documentation such as:
- prenuptial agreements (if any)
- marriage certificates
- federal and state tax returns
- pay stubs
- bank accounts statements
- credit card statements
- insurance policies
- retirement accounts
- mortgage statements
- car loan statements
One of the secrets to succeeding in a divorce without lawyers is being prepared. Compile details of all assets (including their values), liabilities, and debts. Distinguish between non-marital and marital property should they be erroneously included as marital property for distribution. Using current living expenses, include an estimate of what your living expenses will look like post-divorce. Ensure that your documents are securely stored once compiled.
3. Make a Plan for the Matrimonial Home
A matrimonial home is any home occupied temporarily or permanently by a family and in which spouses have an interest. It qualifies for special treatment under Georgia law. Summer cabins, beach homes, and family cottages can all be considered matrimonial homes. Regardless of whose name is on the title, both spouses have equal rights to possession and access until a couple has settled or a court has entered an order for possession.
4. Do Not Overlook Taxes
The divorce process often gives rise to financial and tax-related issues. Failure to address these can significantly impact a spouse’s financial situation after divorce. Among other things, spouses must determine their appropriate tax filing status, establish who gets tax credits for dependents, and understand the current tax treatment of alimony payments. Alimony made under a divorce agreement executed after December 31, 2018, is no longer tax deductible for the payor’s income, nor is it taxable for the recipient.
5. Prepare a Divorce Settlement Agreement
During the divorce process, couples must prepare a divorce settlement agreement, provided there is no pre- or post-nuptial agreement. A divorce agreement sets out the terms of a divorce concerning issues such as property division, custody, child support (if applicable), and alimony, among other matters. It is best to take an amicable approach to negotiating and settling the divorce agreement, as involving the courts can be costly.
6. Consider Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is a low-cost alternative to having lawyers manage a divorce. In divorce mediation, a neutral party or mediator works with spouses to resolve matters on which they disagree. They can help spouses understand their priorities and issues and guide them toward an agreement. Mediators cannot provide legal advice; however, they are knowledgeable in family law.
Are You Planning to Get a Divorce without Lawyers?
If you are planning to get a divorce without lawyers, contact Blue Skies Mediation to lead you through the process. We have a proven track record of providing couples in Atlanta with solid financial advice, expert guidance, and unbiased mediation. Call us at 904.710.9245 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.