In 2017, information is at our fingertips. A potential client can google divorce forms and pull-up a phonebook of forms to attempt to draft and file divorce pleadings on their own. The question comes up often in divorce cases where the parties have limited financial means or where they agree on what to do with respect to their children – do I need a divorce attorney or can I draft and file on my own (pro se)? An attorney has been trained on how to draft pleadings – if you are in a competent law firm, then the attorney your are meeting with his completed at least 12 hours of continuing education training per year. Additionally, because a marital dissolution agreement is in essence a contract in Tennessee not only do you have to provide for who takes what property but you have to ensure that your Marital Dissolution Agreement is contractually sound.
Can you draft simple divorce pleadings on your own using online forms – yes, but the question is should you draft simple divorce pleadings using online forms. Sure, you probably have a neighbor who drafted his/her own pleadings and has never had any issues however it is far more likely that you know someone who has spent thousands of dollars to fix simple paperwork. There are ways to minimize the costs of divorce – especially agreed divorces. One of the most cost efficient ways to divorce if you and your spouse agree on how to divide your assets and liabilities is to be prepared and organized when you consult with an attorney. A well-organized client minimizes the “digging” a divorce attorney has to do to ensure that your paperwork addresses all of your assets and debts. Organization and a clear plan of what how to divide assets and debts is helpful when your attorney is drafting your divorce pleadings. Other pitfalls with trying to do your divorce without an attorney include creating a non-binding contract, difficulty dividing retirement plans, failure to understand tax implication of divorce and incorrectly calculating child support which can create issues in the future. A solid agreed divorce drafted by a competent attorney for a reasonable fee is the best defense against future legal issues which are costly to litigate.