DIY Divorce Impeded by Missing Information

Case Study from Mary Schaaf, Walnut Creek


Recently a woman came in to our Walnut Creek office, desperate to finalize her divorce. She had filed all of her own documents but wasn’t having any success obtaining a filed judgment from the court. She’d received a few rejection letters and was stymied—apparently there was a problem in her legal documents, but she had no idea what it was.

Divorce is never easy, and we are always sensitive to the emotional needs of our clients

This couple had been through the fighting, counseling, trying to make-it-work phases and had reconciled themselves to the fact that their marriage was over. What made this case so frustrating was the fact that both parties were in agreement; they were eager to terminate their marriage and get on with their lives. The frustration of continued rejection letters was delaying their ability to heal and move on.

Some of these cases can be a challenge

It’s analogous to a puzzle–finding the missing piece that has stalled the process. Fortunately, we were able to quickly identify and solve this problem, so we corrected the legal documents, submitted them to the court, they were approved and filed. We contacted our client with the good news that all of the paperwork had been successfully filed and she was finally divorced. She was so relieved that we were able to help her, thrilled to finally be getting divorced.

The failure of DIY legal processes

This is a good example of the failed do-it-yourself (DIY) legal processes that often bring people through our doors. Divorce, like many legal processes, is methodical, but there are always questions and issues that arise–divorce rarely follows the formula described in the manuals. Trying to do this yourself often results in a stalled process, leaving people feeling frustrated and at a loss about what to do. We can often step in, identify and rectify the problem and get the divorce back on track.