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Should You Consider a “Do-It-Yourself Divorce or Family Law Matter”?

Should You Consider a “Do-It-Yourself Divorce or Family Law Matter”?

In Minnesota, there are a variety of online services that provide forms to permit clients to represent themselves in divorces or many family law cases.  Like many things in life, you usually get what you pay for.  The online forms are not “one-size-fits-all.”  Your life and circumstances are much different than your neighbor, friend or family member that has been through divorce or a family law case.

It is always best to meet with an attorney before you take any action (like moving out of the home) as your decisions can have a long term negative impact for you and your children, if you have kids.  Before making any decisions, at least speak to an attorney that is knowledgeable in family law.  Most lawyers will do a free initial consultation that can help you make better, more informed decisions.  You do not want to find out after you’re done with your case that there are problems with your paperwork.  An example is after a divorce, if you do not address the removal of one of the parties from the mortgage by an assumption or refinancing, the decree may say that one party is awarded the home and must pay the mortgage, but that does not relieve both parties from paying the debt based upon the contract you signed with your lender.  They are not a party to your divorce and they can enforce the lien against both parties, no matter what the decree says.  After a decree is entered, I have heard from clients that cannot obtain a new mortgage or hear from the creditor when the other party gets laid off their job and cannot pay the debt.  There are ways to address these matters before a divorce that make it easier in the long run to resolve matters.

There are many examples like this one that should make most individuals consider seeking legal advice before striking out on their own in any legal matter.  Paralegal services, mediators that are not lawyers and online form companies cannot give legal advice that you will need if you are contemplating a major change in your life that involves the courts.  I encourage you to speak with an attorney before making any decisions that can have life-long implications.