“Undivorcing”, is it a growing trend?

In the last year or so there has been a fair amount of media coverage on a practice that seemed worth exploring called “undivorcing”.  These are people that are divorced emotionally and physically, but not legally.  We don’t hear about this a lot because on the level of public information we cannot track the numbers associated with this trend like we can marriage certificates or divorce decrees, which are tracked by the census bureau.  Some of these people still live together but in separate bedrooms, sometimes because of the children, sometimes because of finances, but none the less they are “divorced” emotionally and physically, just not legally.

For the sake of the kids or because we just can’t afford it

We see a lot of couples who stay together for the sake of the kids or because they think they can’t afford the divorce process. With the low housing values, 401K and other retirements accounts drained, high rates of unemployment, etc., some people just are not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Ultimately, they avoid filing divorce all together assuming it will be far too expensive for them to address. We see the “undivorced” more and more frequently these days.

Just the other day we had a client who lived in what he believed to be a completely different state than his wife of 25 years and he wasn’t even sure where she lived anymore.  He said that he thought it was about time that he makes things official and get a legal divorce from this person that he really didn’t even know anymore.  Unfortunately, his case is more complicated since he no longer knows his spouses whereabouts. Sometimes putting off a situation that is inevitable can make things much more difficult down the road when you finally ready to file for divorce.

What does it really cost to get divorced?

The answer to this is not a one size fit all.  There are a lot of variables such as are both parties agreeable, are there children involved, any retirement accounts, any real property, etc.  The answer I can give is that today people have choices.  You can certainly hire an attorney, who will most certainly charge an large retainer upfront, you can try it on your own using a self help clinic or online “do it yourself site” or you can hire a legal document assistant (LDA) service to prepare all of the paperwork and file everything on your behalf.  This many times will allow you to avoid any court visits all together and will make a night and day difference on the time, energy, and frustrations you will expend trying to take the “do it yourself” approach. Each approach has a different price tag and consequence associated with it.  The word “you get what you pay for” really does apply in the legal world.

Research your options before you leap

With all of the research tools available today it makes sense that a reasonable person would research their options before they make any firm decisions on how to handle a divorce, especially a divorce in San Jose where we are the technology capital and phrases like Google or Yelp are daily phrases for us.

Hiring a Legal Document Assistant (LDA) may be a good choice for several reasons.  First they are far less expensive than an attorney, they do not require a retainer (or at least they shouldn’t), and they have experience preparing legal documents.  The LDA services can prepare and file your paperwork for you thus saving you time, money and surprises down the line.

The key to hiring a good LDA service is research.  Make sure the LDA service you hire specializes in the area you need help with, in this case family law or divorce.  Check their reviews, see how long they have been in business and see if they have a professional office environment as opposed to a solo LDA who wants to meet you at Starbucks to prepare your paperwork.   Many LDA services and solo LDA’s have come and gone over the years and you never want to find yourself in a situation where the person or service handling your divorce does not have the knowledge or experience to handle your case properly or goes out of business or leaves town.

You can afford to get a divorce in San Jose, and most anywhere in California these days

So for all of the folks who are considering being “Un-Divorced”, be sure to explore and research your options using all of the wonderful tools available to you with today’s technology.   Price no longer needs to be the reason for staying married.

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