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Thinking of a Do It Yourself Divorce? Better Think Again

By Joseph Dillon, Divorce Mediator

It's Saturday morning. You're standing at the kitchen sink. And you hear it mocking you.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That pipe under the sink has been leaking for weeks. And the bucket just about needs emptying again.

Between the kids activities, homework, your travel schedule and everything else going on in life, you just haven't had time to fix the darn thing. But today is going to be the day.

Your wife keeps telling you to just hire someone. But you insist you're going to fix it. It's a leaky pipe. How hard could it be?

Four hours and one flooded kitchen later, you finally give up. The water from the now exploded pipe got under the fridge, shorting out the cooling coil. And while you were under there, you somehow managed to break the garbage disposal by hitting it with your wrench.

That leaky pipe which looked oh-so-simple to fix is now going to cost you more than you had originally planned...

Why Choose a Professional Mediator Instead of Doing It Yourself?

There's a reason professional plumbers exist. They spend years of their lives studying, training, learning and growing in their chosen profession.

They have the right tools. And can perform a specialized task efficiently and cost-effectively. Saving you time, money and stress in the long run.

The same goes for divorce mediators.

Professional mediators (at least the good ones) spend their lives dedicated to studying, training, learning and growing in their chosen area of expertise: divorce.

As far as I know, the way to fix a leaky pipe hasn't changed much in the past 50 years. But unlike a leaky pipe, divorce is an ever changing landscape.

Alimony laws are constantly being updated. Child support calculations are adjusted annually. And the statutes regarding property division are ever evolving.

So while at first it seems appealing, like that leaky pipe, there are many benefits to using mediation vs a do-it-yourself divorce.

Benefit #1: You'll Spend Less Using Mediation vs a Do-it- Yourself Divorce

Do it yourself divorce has a strong come on. Get divorced for $399 or less. But what are you really getting for $399?

A boilerplate agreement with estimated calculations for child support and no guidance on alimony or how to divide your assets and liabilities. That's what.

Sure this might be fine if you were married 2 years, had no kids and you and your wife each earned the same amount of money so alimony isn't an issue.

But that's not you, is it?

Go the DIY route and your agreement will have more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Holes that will come back to haunt you when you switch jobs. Or get remarried. Or your kids turn 18.

There’s nothing in those agreements that can replace the expert guidance of a professional mediator.

Flash forward 10 years and you hit a speed bump and your agreement is silent on the issue. So you each hire attorneys (the very thing you were trying to avoid in the first place) and off to court you go. The average cost of returning to court on a post-judgment issue is approximately $25,000.

Far more than if you had just mediated in the first place.

Benefit #2: You'll Get Expert Guidance Using Mediation vs a Do it Yourself Divorce

With a do it yourself divorce, you get a book of forms. Or access to a website. You will be asked a series of questions intended to cover the basics of what couples need to get a divorce.

But what if you have a question? Or if the question you're being asked by the form or website is unclear? Or isn't exactly applicable to your situation. Now what?

Therein lies the peril of doing your own divorce. You are on your own. And that's a dangerous place to be in because as you learned above, mistakes can be costly.

Using mediation vs a do it yourself divorce solution provides you with expert guidance that can help you and your wife navigate the divorce minefield. Sure, the self-service providers would like you think it's easy.

But having an expert mediator by your side to guide you through the entire process start to finish is absolutely necessary.

Benefit #3: Mediation Allows You To Control Your Agreement

In a DIY divorce, you get a book of forms and a "fill-in-the-blanks" style agreement in which you select from a series of common options.

But what if your situation isn't one of those listed? Or worse yet, you want to add language on an issue or item that isn't even covered in the form? Then what do you do?

Unless you're a professional and know what you're doing, you're out of luck. And you're left stuck with the generic language contained in the divorce kit.

Mediation, on the other hand, puts you completely in control of your agreement. Not only do you decide how each issue is resolved and the language that outlines those resolutions, you can also discuss and agree on any number of other topics that may not be normally covered in a boilerplate agreement.

In mediation we call these "extra-legal issues" as they're aren't exactly matters of law, but they are critically important to you and your family. Things such as the appropriateness of overnight guests when the children are present or care and possession of the family pets can all be covered.

After spending time with a mediator and going through a number of these types of issues, you will come to understand that a divorce decree is so much more than just where the kids sleep, who gets the house and how much support will you have to pay.

Benefit #4: Mediation Allows You To Decide What's Fair

  • How do you define fair when it comes to dividing marital property and debts?
    • Is it 50-50?
    • Is it 60-40?
    • What if what's fair to you isn't fair to the other party?
    • How do taxes come into play when deciding all of this?
  • What actually counts as marital property?
    • What assets are actually subject to equitable distribution?
    • Is an asset marital or pre-marital? And what if it's both?
    • What if you used pre-marital assets to purchase a marital asset?
Learn how to choose the right mediation professional for you

Benefit #5: Mediation Let's You Spend As Much Time With Your Kids As Possible

You're an "all-in" dad. And you want to spend as much time with you kids as possible. In an ideal world, 50-50 custody would be terrific.

Yet the book of forms contains outdated parenting plan models that haven't been relevant in ages.

One night during the week and every other weekend? Are you kidding me? What is it, 1983?

And your wife is saying "well if it's in the book, then that's how it must work!" Now you're relegated to being a part-time parent. If that.

Mediation gets you the most time with your kids and will help you and your wife come to agreement on even the most non-traditional parenting plans.

By working with an experienced mediator instead of doing it yourself, your mediator will help you create and draft custody options you never even knew to consider.

A mediator will explain to you the pros and cons of each from both a financial as well as emotional standpoint as custody arrangements should be made with your children's ages in mind.

And if it's true shared custody you're looking for, in this 2013 study, we conducted, we noticed an interesting (and positive in my opinion) trend.

Our mediation clients were agreeing on 50-50 custody more and more often over a 5 year period with 43% of cases in 2012 agreeing on a 50-50 time sharing split.

Mediation Is The Winner By A Knockout

If you're looking for a divorce option that's:

  • Cost-effective;
  • Provides you with expert guidance;
  • Puts you firmly in control of your future;
  • Allows you to decide what's fair; and
  • Let's you spend as much time with your children as possible.

Choose mediation.


Equitable Mediation specializes in helping divorcing couples negotiate a fair settlement and divorce peacefully and cost-effectively – without lawyers.

For more than 20 years, Equitable Mediation Founder and Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon has been helping individuals, couples and corporations mediate a myriad of complex issues and intractable problems by utilizing his expertise in negotiation, finance and interpersonal relationships.

For more than 20 years, Co-Founder, Divorce Coach and Co-mediator Cheryl Dillon has been employing her background in psychology, human resources and life coaching to help individuals overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential.

Joe and Cheryl are passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and know first-hand that the right information, combined with the right expertise and the right kind of support can make the challenging process of divorce less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful for divorcing couples and their children.

Equitable Mediation serves clients in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York and California.

Joe and Cheryl can be contacted by phone at: (877) 732-6682 Visit Web Site Visit Blog

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