divorce option infographic

DIY Divorce vs. Hiring a Family Law Firm. What is Your Best Option?

Some questions our Seattle family law firm clients face all the time are:

Can’t I Just Go Online, Download a Few Forms, and Process the Divorce Myself?

Absolutely you can. Just remember – often times people believe things are going smoothly, think their previous spouse will be flexible and open during this process only to find that in the end things are going terribly wrong. Even for an amicable divorce, having a Seattle family law firm prepare the papers can avoid serious legal mistakes that can be expensive to undo, if they can be undone at all.

There are lots of considerations when filing for divorce and many of these things can be highly emotional and borderline dramatic without a referee. There is the rare case that things go 100% smoothly without a family law attorney…but why leave it up to chance?

If the firm is serious about helping you through this process they will do everything they can to make things easier, fair, and amicable. Ask the lawyer if they offer other services besides going to court like Collaboration, Mediation, Cooperative Divorce and more. If nothing else at least take the time to ask a Seattle family law firm some questions before you go it alone.

Won’t I Save Money if I Handle the Divorce without a Lawyer?

It is difficult to estimate the cost of a divorce because going in, your Seattle divorce lawyer does not know what your divorce is going to look like. It is a bit like asking what is the cost of building a house. Without some blueprints, the cost could be $100,000 or $10 million, depending on the house. However, no one gives us a set of blueprints when we start your divorce. Much depends on what happens along the way – how cooperative or not the parties are, how complex the issues turn out to be, and who the lawyers are.

Depending on how things go, our Seattle family law firm have seen divorces completed for a few thousand, and I have seen divorces run well in excess of $100,000. And that is without even getting into the world of celebrity divorces.

One thing that will affect cost is the choice of divorce process that you and your spouse choose. The most common choice is litigation where the end result is either determined by a court after trial, or is negotiated by the lawyers based on what the believe a court would do at trial. This is an adversarial process, meaning both sides are fighting for the best result they can get. This approach also has the widest range of costs, depending in good part on how adversarial the two sides choose to be. 

Another approach we call “kitchen table”. This basically means the two spouses sit down and work out their own settlement and then having lawyers draft the paperwork to make it happen. That can keep the costs down to a few thousand.

Divorce Without a Lawyer Can Become a Contested or Confrontational Divorce

Many couples however find that direct talks break down into an argument they cannot resolve. They get stuck and cannot find a way out. Those couples can benefit from a process that helps them cooperate more effectively. Bringing in a mediator to help guide the conversation, someone who has the tools to help a couple get past “stuck”, can make all the difference and still not cost a great deal. The couple will still also have the expense of having lawyers draft the paperwork once the mediator has helped them come to agreement on the terms of the divorce.

For couples who want more support than a neutral mediator can provide, Collaborative divorce can be a good option. In a collaborative divorce, the couple engages in a series of talks similar to a mediation process, but with a team of professionals (similar to the team that each party might have in a complex litigated divorce) helping them sort though and choose the best solutions for their situation. The costs of a collaborative divorce are higher than for mediation, but tend to run in the lower range of a litigated divorce.

Let Seattle Divorce Services Help You Decide

Whether you’re looking for full support from a lawyer or prefer to work out your own agreements, and whether you’ve maintained a close relationship with your spouse or are unable to work together anymore, our attorneys can provide the right divorce services and solutions for your unique needs. We offer litigation, collaboration, and mediation services so that you can choose the appropriate level of professional assistance for your distinct situation. We also advise about legal separations. Contact us today for more information or to get started.

*Please note that while we cannot represent or give legal advice to both parties to a divorce, if you and your spouse would like to come in together to find out more about the different alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options available for those who prefer to work out their own settlements without court involvement, we would be glad to meet with you both for that purpose.