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Do it Yourself Filing for Divorce

Updated on April 26, 2012

You start out together, sharing everything. The thought of divorce not even present in your love crazed minds.

Quite a few years, a few children, a mortgage, various credit cards and auto loans later, the big D word pops up in your marriage.

In my case, I brought the world of divorce into my previous marriages. Yes, you did read that right, marriageS. I've been divorced twice. I'm on my third, and with any luck and a bit of hope thrown in, last marriage.

My first divorce was a piece of cake. No children, no assets, it was basically a sign & go.

The second one, I made quite a few mistakes that I'm going to share with you.

This is where my hubpage username comes from, I have this tendency to turn my own world upside down.

The Children

First things first once you have come to the realization that the divorce is going to occur.

  • What about the children?
  • Who are they going to primarily live with?
  • Who is responsible for what financially?
  • Who will provide the health and dental insurance?
  • Who will be paying or receiving child support?
  • What will the visitation schedule be?
  • Which decisions can be made by one parent regarding the children without consulting the other?
  • How will changes in the visitation schedule be handled?
  • How will rational discussions with your ex-spouse take place? In person? email? through a 3rd party?
  • Who has the children on which holidays?
  • Who will be doing the transportation for visits
  • What times will the visits begin and end
  • How will a canceled visit be handled?
  • Will you make up visits if a child is ill?
  • Who will pay for extra-curricular activities?
  • Who will pay for school supplies and registration?

I can tell you from personal experience, that you DO want and NEED to figure these things out and not leave the questions to be handled later after the divorce. This is where I wish I had at least consulted an attorney in my second divorce. There are so many emotions when dealing with the prospect of divorcing that you're not thinking rationally. You're angry or excited and wanting it to all just be over with. Trust me on this, take your time, think over every little thing, not only for now, but for the future when life changes occur. If you have little ones, plan ahead for when they're in school and how the visitation may need to change at that time to better benefit the children. I can tell you that in my situation, my ex puts his own wants and needs above those of our kids. He doesn't see it that way, but he does.

HE wants to see them twice during the week. Our schedule is 2 week nights and every other weekend for his time. The problem is that he is a workaholic. He chooses to stay at work late and not arrive home until 7 or 8pm. On weekdays, when the kids are in school, 8:30pm is a decent bedtime. I'm their mom, I've seen what happens when they stay up late and it's not pretty! He continually keeps them up late so he can spend time with them.

Well, if spending time with them was really that important to him, why has he chosen to work late on the two nights per week that he has them? I, and the kids would like to change the schedule during the school year. He won't agree to any alternative that I've kindly wasted my time on coming up with. My only choice would be to fight him in court over it because I didn't plan ahead when divorcing him!

Money Matters

Now that you've completely figured out every last detail with regards to your children, let's move on to money matters.

This is also very important!

If you don't know what you both owe jointly, take the time to figure it out. You can easily do this by pulling your credit report.

A word of caution, where I live (Wisconsin), just because you may agree to let your soon-to-be ex have his vehicle or the house, you're still on the loans!

I made this terrible mistake. I should have demanded the house be sold after a period of time. I'm currently stuck on a mortgage with no way out other than my ex refinancing (let's all guess when that'll happen... NEVER), or I file bankruptcy, or he sells the house (again, never going to happen). So since I don't really want to file bankruptcy, I'm sort of stuck in limbo. I rent a nice house, but I do have a problem when applying for loans because being on the mortgage increases my debt to income ratio to a ridiculous level, on top of being self-employed.

I'm also stuck on his truck loan. Fortunately, he only has about 1 1/2 years left to pay on that. He was attempting to play a game with me for awhile. According to the standard legal jargon in the divorce papers, he cannot harm my credit or I could file contempt charges. He would wait until the last possible day of the grace period on his auto loan to pay. This resulted in me receiving many calls from his lien holder requesting payment. He found this funny obviously since he did nothing when I would inquire about him paying the loan. I finally got to the point when the lien holder would call that I answered with "This is his ex-wife, I'm refusing to make this payment, please repo this vehicle", and then I would give them the address of his place of employment. Of course, I received total silence from the other end of the phone at that point and then after a few minutes they would say that they will continue to try contacting him. Funny thing though, the calls eventually stopped and he started making his payments in a more timely manner.

Child Support

I would highly suggest going with whatever your state calculations are for figuring out the amount for child support.

Again, I didn't.

I agreed upon a set amount per week.

Again, if I want it changed, I would have to go to court.

The way that days are figured, at least here, is by number of overnights.

Going back to his 2 overnights during the week. The kids are dropped off at his house around 7pm usually. He drops them off back at home, with me, at 7am the next morning to get ready for school here. He has them for sleep time only. The care he provided during those 12 hours does not even come close to the care I had provided during the previous 12 hours, or the care I will provide during the proceeding 12 hours. They slept there, that's it... but according to the courts, it counts! I don't know how they figure that, it's really ridiculous if you think about it.

Consult an Attorney

The best advice I can give to you is to consult an attorney.

Even if you only consult with them to go over the final papers before submitting them to the court. At least they could offer some suggestions or direction.

Don't make the same mistakes I've made. I'm sure I'll end up in court in the future and will be spending the $$ that I thought I was saving by doing it myself.

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