Marissa York, a real estate broker in Manhattan, used a $50 online do-it-yourself divorce kit when she and her husband of more than nine years decided to part ways. Their breakup was relatively amicable, she said, so she figured they could save money by avoiding lawyers: "We didn't want to drag it out over months or years," she said.
But after the courthouse clerk rejected her filing because the document formatting was incorrect, she had the paperwork reviewed by a lawyer, who informed her that if she waited six more months to file, she would be entitled to a portion of her husband's pension benefits. She ended up paying about $10,000 in legal fees, which was worth it because she received part of the pension, she said. "If I had to do it over, I would hire an attorney immediately," she said.