Is it possible to divorce without attorneys when children are involved?

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Answered by: David, An Expert in the Children and Divorce Category
Divorce can be expensive. If it is a contested divorce involving disputes over residential time with the kids and division of assets with attorneys on both sides you can count on the price being high. If it is uncontested, consider divorce without attorneys. You more than likely work pretty hard for what money you have.

No matter how you go about it there will be a relatively significant investment of time. It takes time to prepare the documents, send them back and forth a few times and reach an agreement. Financially it does not have to bankrupt you, create a lot of bad feelings or excessively and dramatically impact you and the kids. A divorce involving children will be more emotional than one without. It is essential to keep the best interest of the children at heart and learn to recognize that feeling you get when you are heading into the petty and emotional realm and stop yourself from continuing on that path. It will create tension and your children will pick up on it.

Above all let your children know that you love them and are interested to know what they are feeling and experiencing along the way. Keep your eye on their grades, activities and/or circle of friends. If there are dramatic changes, foster communication then listen to what they say and let them do most of the talking.

While fighting over time with the kids, the CD player, artwork or the KitchenAid will probably happen, please don't do it in front of the kids and be willing to give and not just take. Please recognize that a part of you is trying to hold onto something that was good in the relationship and you will reflect that onto the kids and material possessions. You loved or at least cared for the person who you are now divorcing at some level and at some point in time.

That might be because you were reckless and created a child together and you wanted to do the "right" thing. It might be because you desperately needed a change in your life and getting married and having a kid or two seemed like the most obvious choice. It might be because you genuinely loved and cared for them and always will, just not as a husband or wife anymore. And we all know there are other reasons that render a marriage as irreconcilable and divorce inevitable.

A lot of stuffing can get jammed into a beanbag in a very short amount of time in marriages and all relationships. It is important to keep the stuffing aired out and in the light. This analogy and practice quite possibly could have saved your marriage in the first place. At a certain point I have found that the stuffing is simply too tainted and deeply buried to extract. You can read about the beanbag stuffing in another of my articles in the relationships section.

The Courts are truly committed to doing what is best for the children based on my personal and professional experiences. The sooner the adults in the picture can get a grasp on that the better - and the easier the path will be for you all. Do the right thing. Do what's best for the kids. The sooner you recognize and accept that you will have less time with your kids the better. Then talk with them about it. Listen. Then don't miss the time you do get with them.

It is possible to divorce without attorneys when children are involved. You can reach an agreed parenting plan and child support order. I joked with my parents and sister after my divorce was final in 2001: "Our divorce was so beautiful; I wish you could have been there." Truth be told, we held hands when we walked up to the Judge and mutually declared that our marriage was irreconcilable. Then we handed him the final orders. We walked across the street afterwards, had a soda, split a piece of pie then went our separate ways back to work.

A little rule of thumb I like to use is that the best ruling is usually one that doesn't make either side happy. You need to ask yourself, do you want to be in control of your destiny or do you want the Court to be?

There are a lot of good resources for you to familiarize yourself with after choosing to divorce without attorneys. The best place to start is on the internet. Look up the Court that has jurisdiction over your marriage and explore the Domestic and/or Family Law section of the website. Many of the resources you need will be available here. Courts in Washington even have an interactive, printable booklet for kids so they can better understand what is going on, learn some new words, develop respect and learn to not live in fear of the Court system. It truly does have its place in resolving disputes.

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