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Do-It-Yourself Divorce

Published June 23, 2011  Submitted by:  Tysha

Representing yourself in your divorce case, without an attorney, is referred to as pro se divorce.

If you are considering representing yourself in your divorce case in the state of Missouri, you will need to use the forms approved by the Missouri Supreme Court and are advised to check with your local court to determine if additional specific forms are necessary. The forms can be accessed fully online and saved to fill in with your own personal information. As you enter information into the forms, "balloons" appear to prompt your responses for some entries.


Divorce Overview
Findlaw's Divorce & Family Law Center gives an excellent overview of the topic.

Divorce, referred to in some states as a dissolution of marriage, is a decree by a court that a valid marriage no longer exists. A judgment of divorce, the formal paper issued by the court, typically provides for division of property, makes arrangements for child custody and support, if applicable, and leaves both parties free to remarry.

Most divorces, perhaps more than 95%, do not end up going to a contested trial. Both parties are usually able to negotiate and settle aspects of their case, such as division of property, spousal support and child custody. Somtimes parties reach an agreement through mediation. This type of agreement is virtually automatic by the judge if it appears to meet a minimal standard of fairness.

Women who divorce may resume their unmarried name, keep their married name, or change their name to something completely new, as long as they are not doing so for fraudulent purposes. If the woman chooses to change her name, she should notify government agencies and private companies that have records of her name. Examples of places to notify: Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Passport Agency (within U.S. State Department), Post Office, state and local tax agencies, driver's license bureau, voter registration bureau, professional licensing agencies, professional societies, unions, mortgage companies, landlord, banks, charge card companies, telephone companies, cable company, other utilities, magazines and newspapers to which she subscribes, doctors and dentists, and schools and colleges that she attended or that her children attend.

It can be useful to have the divorce decree state that the wife will resume her unmarried name, but generally it is not necessary to do so in order for a woman to make a valid name-change.


Divorce Timeline
Getting divorced is a complicated legal process. A general understanding of what's likely to happen can help you feel more comfortable at an uncomfortable time. Findlaw.com gives the following chronology of how the average divorce proceeds. State laws or specific issues between the parties may cause some differences.

 

Library Resources
Nolo's essential guide to divorce - A step-by-step guide through every aspect of the divorce process.

Divorce after 50: your guide to the unique legal & financial challenges - Besides basic legal information, postdivorce health-care coverage, retirement benefits and estate planning are also discussed.

Divorce & money: how to make the best financial decisions during divorce - Offers practical and proactive advice to help protect yourself and safeguard your financial future.

Building a parenting agreement that works: how to put your kids first when your marriage doesn't last - Sets out 40 issues separating parents typically face, and presents all the options to resolving them.


Other Resources
Legal Services of Missouri - Provides free legal representation to low income clients in a number of civil legal problems.

Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association - Offers a local lawyer referral service with 50 categories to choose from.

The Missouri Bar - Gives insightful information and an individualized lawyer referral for a small fee.

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