With the U.S. economy lagging on for yet another year, many people are putting off getting a divorce. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for divorce – money problems – are at an all time high in a large number of California households. For people who cannot put off their divorce indefinitely, many are looking for inexpensive ways to end their marriages. Some brave people are doing their own divorce. While not the best alternative to an attorney, if they have little or no assets (or debts) and no support or custody issues, the low value of potential losses may be worth the high risk of inadvertently giving up certain rights. Those doing their own divorce are often surprised at the enormous investment of time it takes to prepare their own forms and to wait in long lines to file documents in court. Many people are choosing freelance paralegals or legal document assistants (LDAs) to help them with their paperwork. However, as there is no actual government agency supervision of LDAs, consumers often get stuck with poor quality document preparers who may cause more problems in a case than they solve.
As a way of “splitting the baby,” many divorcing couples are trying mediation as a means of getting divorced on a budget. Although there can be points of friction between the parties, mediated divorces are for the most part uncontested matters where the parties can, with the help of a divorce mediator, make compromises in order to negotiate a marital settlement agreement. One advantage of mediation, besides the low cost, is time. Mediated divorces can generally be finished in just a month or two from start of the divorce to entry of judgment. Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars and months or years arguing over trivial things in court, cost conscious couples are looking at mediation as a way to economically end their marriage and move on with their lives.