An article by Catherine Jun published in the The Detroit News in March 2010 should be of interest to all --not just divorcing couples who are trying to save money by handling their divorces on their own, but also by attorneys who are seeing a decrease in client base. The article confirms what I see time and again as I am sitting in the peanut gallery waiting for my case to be called for final hearing. So often, parties representing themselves are refused entry of a judgment because their paperwork is defective. The article should be of interest to Detroit area lawyers because of the local focus.
Jun details the difficulty of divorce in a poor economy. She writes:
"With depressed home values and a dicey job market, divorces in Metro Detroit are down, as unhappy couples ride out the financial storm, the theory goes.
"But of those who do file for divorce, more are financially strapped and duking it out without attorneys, according to courts. These do-it-yourself divorces are crowding legal aid offices and court dockets and slowing proceedings with incomplete paperwork and tutorials judges must deliver from the bench. And as more couples represent themselves, many are losing out on property and custody claims that are legally theirs, judges and attorneys say.
"Mark Switalski, chief judge of the Macomb County Circuit Court, said couples in his courtroom are fighting over division of home and credit card debts, a stark change from the battles over the division of home assets in years past.
'If I’ve got a pot of $100,000 to split up, it’s different than if I’ve got a pot of $5,000 to split up,' Switalski said. 'That factors into their ability to retain counsel.'
"In the age of the Internet, do-it-yourself divorces are not new. Couples download forms from online companies selling state-specific divorce papers for a fee. But online forms aren’t officially approved by Michigan courts, and judges have to tell some couples to file the paperwork again."
I wrote about how to choose a family lawyer here. Readers who are thinking about using a do-it-yourself kit might want to review this article.
Jun's article "Divorcing couples leave out lawyers" may be read here.