13 Divorce Tips They Don’t Want You to Know: Secret Weapons of a DIY Divorcee

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Introduction

Ah, divorce. The only thing more complicated than understanding why you got married in the first place But let’s face it, lawyers are like that one friend who insists on ordering the most expensive wine and then skips out on the bill. So, why not DIY this divorce? I mean, how hard can it be? (Spoiler: It’s like assembling IKEA furniture while blindfolded, but we’ll get through it.)

Disclaimer: Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s get serious for a sec. If your relationship has more red flags than a communist parade—like abuse or deception—skip the DIY and call the professionals. Your safety is more important than saving a few bucks.

Divorce Tip 1: Mediation: The Dollar Store of Divorce

You know what’s cheaper than a lawyer? Pretty much everything. But mediation is the dollar store of divorce options. It’s like couple’s therapy but with a referee. You sit, you talk, and someone neutral tells you to stop bickering over who gets the dog. Mediation is great for sorting out assets, custody, and figuring out who gets stuck with Aunt Edna’s creepy porcelain doll collection. Typically these days, a judge requires couples to at least try mediation (or, in our case, twice) before going to trial because trial is extremely expensive, time-consuming, and stressful.

Divorce Tip 2: Get Organized: Because Your Life is Already a Hot MessDivorce tips

What is the first step when you want a divorce? Let’s be real. The only thing more disorganized than your sock drawer is your life right now, or is that just me? So, get your act together. Gather all your financial documents, property deeds, and that secret stash of chocolate you’ve been hiding from the kids. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not scrambling to find your tax returns while negotiating alimony.

Divorce Tip 3: Taxes: The IRS Doesn’t Care About Your Broken Heart

Ah, taxes. The only thing guaranteed in life besides death and regretting your tattoo choices When you’re getting divorced, the taxman still wants his cut. So, make sure you understand how splitting assets and alimony will affect your tax situation. If you’re clueless about taxes, and let’s face it, who isn’t? Consider consulting a financial advisor. It’s like hiring a personal trainer but for your wallet. In New Jersey, there are no federal taxes on alimony received, but there is at the state level. Be grateful, because there used to be and that changed in January 2020.

Divorce Tip 4: Your Support SystemBecause Your Therapist is Already Sick of You

Going through a divorce is like running a marathon with no finish line in sight. You’re going to need a support system stronger than your Wi-Fi connection. Friends, family, or even that nosy neighbor who knows all the local gossip can be a lifeline. Emotional support is the new currency, and you’re going bankrupt without it.

 

Divorce Tip 5: Essential Documents for DIY Divorce

How do you silently prepare for a divorce? Get all your paperwork ready to go!

Document Type Why You Need It Where to Find It
Financial Statements To not get screwed in asset division. The last 12 months prior to divorce, then, depending on the time it takes to get divorced, 6 months after you became separated, or the last 6 months Your bank online is the easiest; unless you have a local bank, then you’re at their mercy.
Property Deeds So you know who gets the house or the shed County records.
Quit Deed (Post-Judgement) You need to get this notarized and filed with the county clerk if you get the house. It’s a record that they forfeited rights; regardless of whether they were voluntary or court-ordered, you still need it. Online, then notarize and file with the county.
Tax Returns Because the IRS waits for no one Your filing cabinet or accountant This part ain’t rocket science.
Police Reports Domestic violence needs to be disclosed to the court and you may be able to use it to your advantage because of the laws in place to protect victims.

(If applicable, but just about everything was applicable in my never-ending drama series.) 

In NJ, these are accessible at the municipal court clerk: Records. To clarify, that would be the town that the police reports were made in, not typically the county.
Insurance Information Certification of insurance is now a required form, at least in NJ but I do believe that is due to federal regulations. I could be wrong. Your explanation of benefits, statements, and/or monthly billing should have all of the information you need. Or just your card, but you will need your benefits details. Be sure to submit as much detail as possible.

 

Divorce Tip 6: Social Media: Where Marriages Go to Die

This one you can file under “What not to do during separation?” You know that urge to subtweet your soon-to-be ex or post a cryptic Facebook status? Resist it like you resist the urge to text your ex at 2 a.m. Anything you post can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion—and yes, maybe even a real court. Judges do not look kindly to anything posted in the public eye and it could get twisted faster than playing Twister after too many drinks.  So, keep your passive-aggressive emojis to yourself and your foot in your mouth.

Divorce Tip 7: The Kids: Because They’re More Resilient Than You Think

If you’ve got kids, this divorce isn’t just about you and your failed dreams of marital bliss. It’s also about them. And let’s be honest, they’re already more emotionally mature than you are. So, keep their needs in mind. Work out custody arrangements that don’t make them feel like a human game of tug-of-war. And for heaven’s sake, don’t use them as messengers or emotional support. They’re not your mini-therapists.

Divorce Tip 8: Alimony: The Monthly Reminder of Your Failed Relationship

How is alimony calculated?

How is alimony calculated?

Ah, alimony. It’s like a subscription service you never wanted but can’t seem to cancel. Whether you’re the one paying or receiving, make sure you understand the laws in your state. And remember, alimony isn’t a punishment; it’s a “financial right”, don’t go on a spending spree or a withholding rampage. Be fair, even if it kills you a little inside.

Divorce Tip 9: DIY Doesn’t Mean Do It Alone

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: technology. AI in law is like the new kid on the block that everyone’s curious about. It’s rapidly developing and becoming smarter by the day. I stumbled upon this gem halfway through my trial, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer. I had spent weeks, if not months, on tasks that this AI could do in a fraction of the time.

Currently, I’m testing two products. The first one is budget-friendly and goes by the name of AI Lawyer . The second one? Well, that’s a secret for now, but stay tuned. These tools are not just time-savers; they’re sanity-savers. So, if you’re going through a divorce, consider getting a virtual lawyer on your side. It’s like having a mini-me who went to law school.

Divorce Tips 10: Pros and Cons of DIY Divorce

Divorce tips: pro se vs. Hiring a lawyer

DIY Divorce:

Pros:

    • Cost-effective: Handling your own divorce can significantly cut down on legal expenses.
    • Control: You have complete control over the negotiation and decision-making process.

Cons:

    • Complexity Risk: Without legal expertise, you might overlook critical legal issues or misinterpret laws.
    • Emotional Stress: Navigating a divorce without professional support can be emotionally overwhelming, especially in contentious situations.

Hiring a lawyer:

Pros:

    • Expert Guidance: A lawyer brings legal expertise, ensuring all legal aspects are correctly handled.
    • Stress Reduction: Having a professional handle the legalities can reduce the emotional burden of the divorce process.

Cons:

    • Cost: Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, potentially adding significant cost to the divorce process.
    • Less Personal Control: You may feel that you have less direct control over the negotiations and outcomes.

Divorce Tip 11: Insurance Premiums, Deductibles, Benefits, and Max Out of Pocket for Co-Pays

Insurance is like that boring party guest you didn’t want to invite but had to because they’re somehow related to you. If you want to keep your benefits, deductibles, and co-pays close to their current state, you need to ask for this specifically as a stipulation in your divorce. Don’t overlook this; otherwise, you might find yourself in a financial pitfall deeper than your emotional one.

Divorce Tip 12: Police Reports: The Drama Series You Didn’t Sign Up For

If your marriage had more drama than a soap opera, you might have police reports to prove it. In cases involving domestic violence, these reports are not just pieces of paper; they’re your leverage in court. Laws are in place to protect victims, and you should use them to your advantage.

Divorce Tip 13: Life Insurance: Betting on the Afterlife

If you have young kids, life insurance isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessity. Consider getting a term life policy that lasts at least until your alimony is up or your kids are through college. I have a 20-year, million-dollar policy on my ex-husband. If something happens to him before my daughter turns 24, we’re covered. Unfortunately, I can’t get life insurance due to a medical condition, but if you can, get it for both of you. It’s like a safety net, but for the worst-case scenario.

Conclusion: The Ultimate Guide to DIY Divorce Tips: You Got This, Trust Me

So there you have it, folks. The nitty-gritty, the ins, the outs, and the in-betweens of navigating a DIY divorce It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s also not a trek through Mordor. You’ve got options, resources, and now a handy guide to help you through it.

Remember, divorce is not just an end; it’s a new beginning. And like any new start, it comes with its own set of instructions. So bookmark this page, print it out, or tattoo it on your arm (okay, maybe not that last one).