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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over 80% of divorces in Colorado are pro se these days (meaning they are conducted without attorneys). Not surprising given that an average divorce will cost $20,000 per spouse, and a large retainer is required up front.

I know several folks here have done their own divorce; I'd like to do an informal survey: what was your marriage like (length of marriage, work status of each spouse, kids, assets, etc), and how did your divorce go? Do you have any regrets?

Thanks in advance.
 

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i probably wouldn't advise it for kids and assets. i was divorced after a 3 year marriage. very clean. we were both in agreement. new york state. a slew of multiple choice forms downloaded off the web. fairly easy in the grand scheme but not different than doing long form taxes.
 

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I divorced in March 2012 after 12 years of marriage.

I have been the breadwinner. My husband has not worked since 2002.

His 2 children and my son are in their mid 30's.

I did the divorce Pro Se. It was easy to split things. We no longer own a house so that was easy.

The divorce cost us the $135 filing and copy fee. That was it. It was final in one day. We agreed on everything.

Do you have children? It's not hard to do a good custody arrangement.

My suggestion is to get a good example. Do you know anyone in a similar situation who did a divorce? You can ask them for their divorce papers if they will share. Or go to the court house and get copies of someone's divorce.
 

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I'm in the process of doing this. We had 24 years of marriage, the last two we have been separated.

My STBXH is an alcoholic and we've been living separately since Dec, 2010. Separate homes (we don't and never have owned a house together), separate bank accounts, credit cards, etc. My credit is clean and I have no real loans except as cosigner on my daughter's car. Nothing on my credit cards.

On the other hand, my husband isn't working and had himself a 2 year party blowing through his inheritance and living off credit cards. He's been drinking and in rehab several times in the past 2.5 years. I've had enough and filed for divorce. I want nothing to do with his problems or debts.

My problem is that I have both kids and he's not paying anything..it's all on me and I want child support from him. This is the second time in 2 years that's eaten away at my savings as a result of his antics and problems.

He says he's willing to pay half of our children's expenses and we are going to sit down and figure out what's needed and hopefully he'll agree to pay something. He's already agreed that all our assets (not much there but a couple of 10 year old cars) and our debts will be our own and separate. I don't know exactly how much he's racked up on his credit cards but it was all done while we were separated and I want nothing to do with it. He says that's fine and wouldn't expect me to pay it but I want it legal and in writing.

Assuming he stays sober, he is free to visit with our 15 year old son as much as he wants but our son is to live with me. My 18 year old daughter is putting herself through college and wants nothing to do with him.

We talked last weekend and right now he's sober and is asking for time to "put his life back together". I agreed to give him some breathing room but reiterated that I expect support from him for our son. In the meantime when the papers are filed I will be giving them to him and we will hopefully draw up a contract and have an uncontested divorce. Neither of us can afford an attorney. The cost of filing here in NJ is quite steep ($275) and I'm waiting on a fee waiver from a judge. I've already filed the papers but am waiting for it to be finalized. It'll cost him $135 to counterfile. He can put in for a waiver as well. I agreed to give him the papers personally so no need to get a sheriff to serve them. I agreed to consult with him on everything that's going on.


So hopefully things will continue on and it will all be amicable. Don't have much choice. To contest it would be a long, drawn out process with court appointed mediation that could take weeks, if not months. I consulted with an attorney and they want a $3000 retainer @ $250-400/month. I don't have that kind of money and if I did, I'd have better things to spend it on. Considering how little we have to fight about I don't see the point.
 

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I consulted an attorney who has a history of mediation and was told how much I could expect in a divorce. The consultation cost me $145. Then I filed for divorce and did all the paperwork. My exH got an attorney, I don't know how much it cost him. I had already taken the 7K I was told I could expect in a divorce and he gave me some of his education benefits from the military that paired with my own gave me what I wanted and didn't cost him anything out of pocket. My divorce cost me $40 and it didn't go to trial, just a 40-minute mediation session and it was fine. I got a freedom from harassment order for me and my kids as a bonus. It has been almost a year, no regrets. I didn't want any responsibility for a house and he went to Kuwait and was bored out of his mind for a year so I let him get away with hiding the 10K he put in his bonus savings account through the military plus the 1K he got on interest that he failed to put on the paperwork, and he felt like he was getting away with lying, which makes him happy. lol.
 

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We are are seriously contemplating about using this process ourselves, even with a kiddo involved. We both have some history dealing with the courts and lawyers and know how much it can cost and not see any real difference in the results.

She is ensuring we get some professional advice concerning the child support implications and all that, can't fault her for that at all. D is her idea but she say's she want's to remain civil as it approaches and works it way through the system.

If we can remain adult through this all, we shouldn't have to many issues, will still be painful though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
On the other hand, my husband isn't working and had himself a 2 year party blowing through his inheritance and living off credit cards. He's been drinking and in rehab several times in the past 2.5 years. I've had enough and filed for divorce. I want nothing to do with his problems or debts.
I'm not a lawyer, and what I say is my own impression based on what I've read about laws in my state (Colorado) which will certainly differ from yours (NJ).

But... it's great that you are so financially responsible, first off! And I'm sad to hear that your husband has been so wreckless. I wish you had filed for divorce earlier (before he racked up CC debt) since in most states ALL debt incurred while married is joint debt. That means that, if your husband were more litigious, he could simply say that he can't pay his credit card debt and you would be on the hook.

(In other states this isn't true: debts acquired and assets gained while separated, if it's clear that the separation was "for good", would not be marital. Consult an attorney in your state for the relevant laws.)

Here's what I found with a quick web-search:
The key New Jersey case with regard to the apportionment of martial debt is Monte v. Monte, 212 N.J. Super. 557 (App. Div. 1986). Here, the court held that the allocation of debt depends upon the circumstances in the particular case. In summary, any credit card debt that is related to supporting the family will be considered to be marital debt. If the credit card debt is related to such extracurricular activities such as gambling, massages, or on paramours, then the court will not apportion this debt to the other spouse. The key issue is whether the credit card debt(s) is related to supporting the family. If so, then both spouses will be held jointly responsible for these credit card debts even if the charges are incurred by only one spouse.
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My problem is that I have both kids and he's not paying anything..it's all on me and I want child support from him. This is the second time in 2 years that's eaten away at my savings as a result of his antics and problems.
Yeah, another problem with having waited so long. If you had started this process 2 years ago, you would have received child support by now.

He says he's willing to pay half of our children's expenses and we are going to sit down and figure out what's needed and hopefully he'll agree to pay something. He's already agreed that all our assets (not much there but a couple of 10 year old cars) and our debts will be our own and separate. I don't know exactly how much he's racked up on his credit cards but it was all done while we were separated and I want nothing to do with it. He says that's fine and wouldn't expect me to pay it but I want it legal and in writing.
Yeah, you need to get everything you can think of written down. Child support (how much and for how long), parenting decisions, visitation, etc. Given that there aren't a ton of assets, it sounds like child-related issues are the most important to deal with. It should be relatively simple to divide assets and assign debt.

We talked last weekend and right now he's sober and is asking for time to "put his life back together". I agreed to give him some breathing room but reiterated that I expect support from him for our son.
Be careful with waiting too long since you may be in danger of unwittingly taking on more of his debt if your state deems that debt marital. I wonder if there is a self-help center for pro se litigants in your state where you could get free legal advice? I'm guessing they would advise you to move on this ASAP.

In the meantime when the papers are filed I will be giving them to him and we will hopefully draw up a contract and have an uncontested divorce.
In Colorado, even when the divorce is uncontested you still have to attend a parenting class (when there are minor children from the marriage), and enter forms with the state regarding their disposition.

Neither of us can afford an attorney. The cost of filing here in NJ is quite steep ($275) and I'm waiting on a fee waiver from a judge. I've already filed the papers but am waiting for it to be finalized. It'll cost him $135 to counterfile. He can put in for a waiver as well. I agreed to give him the papers personally so no need to get a sheriff to serve them. I agreed to consult with him on everything that's going on.
It's good your spouse is open to communication about this (as opposed to mine). You at least have that going for you! And I'm glad you won't have the sheriff (or other process server) involved because that would be another $75-200.

So hopefully things will continue on and it will all be amicable. Don't have much choice. To contest it would be a long, drawn out process with court appointed mediation that could take weeks, if not months.
Well, the risk you take in forgoing mediation or retaining an attorney is that there could be some foreseeable trouble down the road that could have been anticipated. But you really have no choice here, it sounds like, so it sounds like you're doing what you can do!

I consulted with an attorney and they want a $3000 retainer @ $250-400/month. I don't have that kind of money and if I did, I'd have better things to spend it on. Considering how little we have to fight about I don't see the point.
Is that a typo? $250-400 per month? Or per hour?

I have seen rates from $275-425 per hour here (and I've paid them for consultations). Retainers range from $2500-7000 just to get started.

Virtually every one of them insists that you need a lawyer in order to divorce. Of course you have to consider that they are not necessarily objective in this... they have a business to run!

Thanks so much for your story... and best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My exH got an attorney, I don't know how much it cost him.
I'm surprised he didn't tell you (or worse... ask you to share the cost!).

My divorce cost me $40 and it didn't go to trial, just a 40-minute mediation session and it was fine.
$40? Wow. Ok, add to that your $145 consultation and you may have one of the cheapest divorces on record! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We are are seriously contemplating about using this process ourselves, even with a kiddo involved. We both have some history dealing with the courts and lawyers and know how much it can cost and not see any real difference in the results.
I so envy you having a reasonable person to work with... that you both see the trade-offs clearly here.

May I ask, how did you acquire this familiarity with courts and lawyers?

She is ensuring we get some professional advice concerning the child support implications and all that, can't fault her for that at all. D is her idea but she say's she want's to remain civil as it approaches and works it way through the system.
Are you guys considering using a mediator at all? I've read that the "normal" process is to first sit down and divide up everything (assets), decide on alimony, write up a parenting plant for the child, set up child support (if any), then take a list of all items you cannot agree on and go see a mediator.

As opposed to a mediator, an attorney cannot represent you both so you would need TWO attorneys (doubling the cost) unless you trusted her to consult an attorney and tell you the outcome. There are plenty of attorney-mediators who will act in a neutral capacity and point out any gaping holes or red flags in your agreement.

If we can remain adult through this all, we shouldn't have to many issues, will still be painful though.
Best of luck! :smthumbup:
 

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We will see how "reason" figures into this all as time moves on. So far I'm not battling her or trying to convince her this is wrong at all after the initial shock and grief, I cant stop her or make her change her mind if she dosent want to. I haven't been perfect by any means since the bomb, but seem to get bad attitude more often now.

She used to work with a fairly successful law practice several years ago, we are still in touch with them socially and professionally and this is not my first divorce. Got married once at a real young age.

Also funded and attended the court proceedings fighting with her X over my SD rights. This was years of fanagling.

We have a consult with a mediator/financial expert on D issues next week. I honestly think advice may be to bend me over, as I make a good salary and we decided that she could be a SAHM several years ago. Going to try and approach it with a open mind though.
 

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We are using a mediator who's a lawyer. It will end up costing about $1,250 total, including the whopping $250 filing fee. The divorce is fairly complicated, as we have kids, debts, two houses, and pensions. The mediator is there to help you two split everything within the confines of law. He/she cannot choose sides or say what's fair, unless one of you is taking advantage of the other, or you two can't agree on things. It works well if you are both generally fair-minded people who can be adults with each other for a few weeks to get through the mediation sessions. I've found it easier than my worst fears of lawyers, fights, and $20K lawyer bills. An almost boring divorce.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
We are using a mediator who's a lawyer. It will end up costing about $1,250 total, including the whopping $250 filing fee. The divorce is fairly complicated, as we have kids, debts, two houses, and pensions.
I'm in a similar boat, with a business to boot.

The mediator is there to help you two split everything within the confines of law. He/she cannot choose sides or say what's fair, unless one of you is taking advantage of the other, or you two can't agree on things.
I've read three books on divorce mediation and, I have to say, I think the mediators have a lot more power than they think. Even subtle cues can steer the negotiations one way or the other, and mediators are humans after all. Of course it's still TONS better than having a judge (who is also human) decide things for you.

It works well if you are both generally fair-minded people who can be adults with each other for a few weeks to get through the mediation sessions. I've found it easier than my worst fears of lawyers, fights, and $20K lawyer bills. An almost boring divorce.
Honestly, divorce is one domain in which "boring" is probably a blessing. :)
 
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