Some people get caught up in the “Do it Yourself” movement and decide to represent themselves in a divorce. After all, how hard can it be? They're thinking: Texas is a 50-50 property state, so you divide everything equally. Then you use standard visitation and child support guidelines. You just write down what you want and the Judge will straighten out any problems and then grant the divorce.
Now, back to reality. Life is complicated. The more assets you have, the more important it is to use a lawyer for a divorce. If there are children, there are many important issues other than child support and visitation. Judges don't fix your mistakes.
Here are some issues you may need to consider. 1. There are parental rights, powers and duties that have to be allocated between the parents. Some can be shared, some might work with consultation between the parents, some might need a tie-breaker if the parties can't agree, and others are usually controlled by just one parent. These can decide the outcomes of some very important issues. You need knowledgeable guidance on them. 2. There are many different variations in the possession (visitation) schedules for the kids. You have to come up with something that both parents accept and use language that is specific enough to be enforceable in case of future conflict. 3. Child support can have some issues as well. Is is really necessary? Should you use the guidelines or try something else? Will the Judge approve something else? How to you calculate it? You also have to use correct and specific language in creating the order.
4. What do we need to divide? What is separate property (which the Court can't divide) and what's community? Are there any tax consequences? Can all assets be divided? If not, what do you do?
5. How do you handle health insurance? Can one spouse provide it for an ex-spouse? If so, how? How do you set up the health insurance for the kids? Who pays what?
6. Can we divide retirement accounts? If so, how?
7. What do we do with the house? One party keeps the house — how do you get the other spouse's name off the mortgage? Can you refinance the house? Do you want to sell it now? If so, you need detailed plans for that. What do you do with the proceeds? What if you can't sell it? What if your ex-spouse won't sell it? There's a lot at stake with the house.
These are only some of the issues you may face in a Do-it-Yourself Divorce. If you have children, more than a little property or a marriage longer than a year or two, you definitely need a lawyer to help make sure you don't make a mess of your financial and family futures.