DIY Divorce Done Wrong

Carrie Sue Doxsee, J.D.
9 min readJul 16, 2022

Did that company you paid screw you?

Divorce is hard enough… don’t let a company charge you for forms and cause more problems.

As an attorney who practices in family law, I do get clients who have hired some company to help them with their forms only to get screwed.

· They don’t explain how to fill out a form or let you file BLANK ones that are not even signed;

· They charge you an ongoing fee every month and you don’t know how to get out of it;

· They don’t tell you anything about the process and how it works;

· They don’t explain anything about stuff you might need to know like mediation or how to deal with real estate or what you need for your Parenting Plan…

· They don’t let you know if you will need an attorney to do part of your case (which in Missouri, you will if you have real estate or minor children);

· They take your money and really don’t add ANYTHING of value for you.

It makes me so MAD!!!!

I spoke with a woman this week whose sister is disabled and needed to get her divorce done. The sister and her husband had been separated for a bit and the fact that the woman was still married was messing up the amount of benefits she could receive. They had paid a company money and now were locked into some monthly charge that she didn’t know how to get out of and frankly, the company did nothing to help this woman other than to get her past the filing of her initial paperwork.

I had another client who I had to fix her failed DIY where the company she paid let her file BLANK paperwork.

I have had several clients whose cases were dismissed and I had to get them reinstated and then fix documents… all because they didn’t fill them out completely, left things blank, or did not realize they had to hire an attorney to draft a Judgment for them.

Why? Because there is nothing out there in Missouri to help people figure out how to DIY their divorce.

The State has a junky website with some forms and a one page “How To”.

So not cool!

This is why I created eBooks, a webinar, 3 day online Challenge, and an online course. I was so sick of having to tell people “sorry, I can’t help you” only because they couldn’t pay. I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West (or is it East).

I even started adding in “Unbundled Legal Services” to help people pay me to do a piece of their case. But I did find that people wanted more from me and I still felt like I was leaving them to fend for themselves.

My journey of helping people who can’t afford an attorney continues to expand.

So what do you do when you need to get divorced but don’t have a lot of money to pay an attorney? What do you do if you have a pretty easy case?

I help people who can’t afford an attorney successfully DIY their divorce and walk out of the courtroom with a signed Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with DIY Divorce Secrets- educational products to get your through the DIY process.

Below are some of the options I have to help right now…

What if you could get the help you need to be ready to file your DIY divorce?

This 3 day online event gives you a framework for how the divorce process works, some of the pitfalls to avoid as a DIY Divorce filer, and practical advice on the “How To” of filing your own divorce. You will also learn if you qualify to file your own case and, if your Spouse files, what you need to do to protect your rights. When you finish the course, you will be ready to take the next step to file your divorce- whether you DIY or hire an attorney.

This is perfect for people who don’t have money to hire an attorney or have a simple easy and uncontested divorce.

I have a bunch of “Do It Together” couples who have opted to walk through this divorce journey together because they want to skip all the divorce drama and finish their divorce fast.

To join the fun, go to (click on the link)

We have a private Facebook Group, tons of resources, and daily prizes!

Come join me over lunch to learn if you qualify to DIY your divorce or what help you need from an attorney.

Not sure if you qualify to DIY your divorce? On this FREE webinar, we will go through exactly what help you will need to finish your divorce on your own, the options you have if you need an attorney to do PART of your case, and how you hire a good attorney if you need one.

There are a lot of people who can hire an attorney, but simply don’t want to because they have everything worked out. This is a great resource for you to see exactly what the DIY process will be like for you.

Again… tons of resources and helps you take the next step to get started with your divorce.

Register for The Webinar (←click on the link)

What if you could learn all the secrets of DIY divorce in an easy online course?

My online course gives you EVERYTHING you need to know about DIY Divorce…

· Do I qualify? What if I need an attorney to do PART of my case?

· “How To” with directions on exactly how to fill out the forms so you don’t goof them up. Redlined versions will help you breeze through preparing your documents.

· Learn how to do your job so the Judge can do their job and you get to walk out of the courtroom with a signed Judgment of Dissolution not an invitation to come back and try again or, worse yet, to hire an attorney to fix your Divorce.

· Know exactly how to process works, what to expect, what questions to ask the clerk when you file, and get your case filed the first time to the courthouse. Finally, something that will answer all your questions!

· Learn the magic words you need to say on the witness stand so the Judge can grant your divorce.

· Learn enough of the legal mumbo jumbo to get through the divorce.

· Education on all the legal concepts you might need to know in plain English- super simple and easy.

· Tons of resources and helping you understand “How To” for specific types of assets, mediation basics, and additional resources to help you live your best life AFTER divorce.

Want to know more? Grab our Free Publication “Why The State Divorce Forms Aren’t Enough- and what to do about it”.

What if you do need an attorney to do part or all of your divorce? What are your options?

Not all attorneys offer all these options

First, not all attorneys offer all these options. Most attorneys only do hourly representation, but there are some attorneys who offer affordable options.

Unbundled Legal Services/ Limited Scope Representation

You can hire an attorney to do PIECES of your case.

I explain it like this- You go to McDonalds and only buy the Quarter Pounder, not the Value Meal with everything. Just like at a restaurant, you can purchase only what you need.

The most popular option is to have an attorney prepare your Judgment. Why would you need this option? If you have real estate or minor children, the Missouri Judgment Forms won’t work for you.

But there are TONS of options that can help you if your case gets stuck, you are confused, or need legal advice.

Flat Fees

If you have a simple easy divorce but don’t want to DIY your own case, Flat Fee is the perfect option for you.

You pay one price for the whole case (as long as it is uncontested).

What does “uncontested” mean?

Uncontested divorce is where your Spouse does not have an attorney, they don’t participate in the case at all, or you guys are “Do It Together” on the same page with 100% of your issues resolved.

The law firm basically acts as a secretary to do all your paperwork for you. This is a “Done For You” option. Plus, after COVID, a bunch of Courts are not even requiring you to show up for a hearing if you file a little extra paperwork. If the Judge does require you to appear in person, the attorney will go with you for the final hearing. Either way, the attorney is there front to back for your case until your Judgment of Dissolution is signed.

Simple. Easy. Fast. Reasonable Rates.

Traditional Hourly Representation

The attorney will bill you hourly for their time and the time of the paralegal.

You start off paying a “retainer” or “trust deposit” which the attorney puts into their trust account. It is kind of like putting money into a savings account. When the attorney has earned the fees, they make a withdrawal out of the account to pay your bill.

You will be required to keep money in the trust account (whatever level the attorney requires) and you will have to make additional deposits per your Representation Agreement. Most all attorneys have a “Trial Deposit” to cover all the expenses of getting ready for trial and the actual day of trial. Some have additional deposits for Depositions, Subpoenas, Guardian Ad Litem, etc.

An attorney can’t really tell you how much your divorce is going to cost, but they can give you a ball park — maybe.

If your case is contested (or it is at the moment), hourly billing is your best bet.

Need an attorney to do part or all of your case?

To schedule a free “Welcome Call” and find out more. (←click on the link)

Want resources on how to pick the right attorney?

Grab our free Resource- “Secrets To Hiring The Right Attorney” (←click on the link)

What about using Mediation to shortcut the process?

Great question!

Mediation is a great way to sit down with a neutral person trained to help you find settlement solutions and finalize your agreement.

Did you know that you can go to mediation even BEFORE you start your divorce?

As a mediator, I have people come in all the time because they just need a little help coming up with an agreement on a few pieces in their divorce case.

Sometimes it is because they are not sure if the know all the things they need to include in their settlement. This happens a bunch with the marital residence, retirement accounts, and Parenting Plans.

This is a great option for parents who are on the same page about most things, but maybe need help figuring out the child support (although if this is all you need you could also use the Unbundled/Limited Scope option to have an attorney prepare the Form 14 for you).

Truth is, most mediations start off with the Parties being POLAR OPPOSITES on what they want. In fact, I tend to have more HIGH CONFLICT mediations than anything else. A good mediator can help you focus on the future and help you create WIN/WIN solutions to your divorce case.

The great thing about mediation is that if you do have an agreement, you can get the mediator to draft the settlement documents and your Judgment (well at least many mediators will offer this for you).

Schedule Your Mediation (←click link)

Final Thoughts…

I get that when you are starting your divorce, it seems overwhelming on what to do and how to get started. How do I know? I have been through a divorce myself!

Know what gives you peace of mind while you are going through your case?

Getting the help you need.

Hopefully this article has provided a stepping stone to get some free help, learn what you need, and figure out how to make it affordable (or at least pick the right option for you.)

Be sure to follow me and get on my email list for more “How To” publications on your legal case.