How To DIY Your Divorce

Filing for divorce was very empowering for me.

I’ve always been someone who blurts out her latest idea, self-development or accomplishment the second it happens. 

The problem is that it never felt good. 

I was constantly doing and saying things for other people. 

I was in a constant state of waiting for judgment and approval. 

The problem is, we can’t truly get approval from anyone but ourselves. 

That void will never be full until you look at yourself and say 

“I approve of you & what you’re doing”

That’s what fueled my decision to do this divorce by myself. 

I didn’t even tell my parents and sister until it was filed and underway. 

A year after I began the legal journey. 

Almost four years after I decided a divorce was imminent. 

Going through the paperwork, creating a mutual agreement, and filing the papers all felt very “take my power back” vibey. 

And it was crucial to my approval of myself.

Getting divorced a second time tried to come into my life with a lot of shame. It was a heavy shame that I could tell had no intention of going anywhere.

Expect I didn’t approve of that shame. 

So what if I was getting divorced? Again.

I tried & bet on love twice and what? Lost?!

No. Not at all if you ask me. 

I lost nothing. Either time.

I learned a lot about myself and about love & relationships.

None of the past years of my life have hindered me going forward in my future relationships. In fact, they do the opposite. 

I’ve had two (extreme) crash courses.
There is a lot to be said for that.

So it’s probably my job to start sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

So let’s start with how to file for divorce on your own.

  1. Look up the laws in your state. I know in Maryland our laws were pretty archaic (as in you must physically live apart for 12 months before you can file for divorce) until a year ago. Each state has their own take on the ins & outs. Your county website should be enough to fill you in on the laws and qualifications.
  2. Determine what paperwork you need filled out in order to file. There is usually forms such as: Civil Domestic Case Info, Complaint for Divorce, & Financial Statement.
  3. Write out your Mutual Separation Agreement. This baby is the gold standard of life post divorce. Spell out everything in as much detail as possible. What assets, furniture, living arrangement you want. Piece out if you want alimony, as well as when and how. Do the same thorough process with child support. Everything you say in this document will stand.
  4. Take your spouse with you & get the Mutual Separation Agreement notarized. Legal document, check. Make sure your spouse reads and agrees first. 
  5. Take all the necessary signed copies of your paperwork (usually 3) and your Mutual Separation Agreement & head to the courthouse. Most states will ask for a divorce filing fee – commonly anywhere from $150 – $250. Much cheaper than a lawyer. 
  6. Bonus: If you bring your spouse with you, you can file his response right away. This saves you from having to send certified mail or have a third party serve them with divorce papers. Plus it makes the process go that much quicker. You’ll need forms such as: Witness Information Form, Answer to Complaint, Joint Statement of Concern of Marital & Nonmarital Property, and Joint Request to Schedule Hearing.
  7. Wait for a court date. If your divorce is uncontested and you have a Mutual Separation Agreement, court should be smooth sailing. 

I know this approach to divorce is not for everyone. But if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that taking a deep breath & remembering your spouse is also a human can save you a lot of grief (and money) in the end. 

Divorce doesn’t have to be a dirty word & it doesn’t have to be overly painful. It’s just two people understanding that a relationship has run its course. It’s okay to move on and explore the next chapter of your life.

Shame has more to do with other people’s opinions than your own. And last time I checked, the only opinion that matters at the end of the day is the one you have of yourself. 

Look in that mirror & take your power back.

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