The stereotypical image that people conjure up in their mind when they think of divorce court involves two people yelling at each other while their lawyers ask for an absurd amount of money from the other side. This isn’t the case in all divorces. Shockingly enough many divorces are handled in a civil manner and the attorneys are only their to facilitate the paperwork. But what if you could avoid the lawyers and the courtroom and do everything online? Well in this day and age, it’s possible. Although the online forum may provide an efficient way to breeze through a divorce, there are a few things to consider before you forego the lawyer and courts in favor of the new, online frontier.
1) Many people are under the impression that an online divorce will not cost money, but the websites offering these services do charge. It can be substantially cheaper than the retainer fee that you would have to pay an attorney, but the online fee can also depend on the kind of issues that are present in your case. If you’re the one filling on the website, then you’re the the one that will pay the fee. Also, depending on the complexity, the website might charge more. In any case where there are complex issues, like child custody, or it’s not an amicable divorce, it’s best to consult with an attorney.
2) Believe it or not, there are scam online divorce websites. Before you file anything online, do your homework. USlegal.com is a good place to start. It can be a little hard to navigate because of all the different types of forms and legal services the website offers, but at least you know it’s a reputable site (the Better Business Bureau has given this website an A+ ranking).
3) Maybe the most surprising thing about filing for a divorce online is that it doesn’t guarantee that the parties won’t end up in court. After reading the forms filed by the online provider, the judge might find it necessary to speak to one or both of the parties. This is especially true in cases where there are children involved.
4) Just remember, these online providers are NOT acting as attorneys. They are simply helping you fill out the paperwork and file it in the correct way, which can be an overwhelming task for someone not familiar with the legal system. But if you have specific questions about the divorce process, distribution of property, child custody etc. it’s always best to consult a divorce attorney.
5) Last, divorce law can be complex and it varies state by state. While many of these websites offer forms for all 50 states, there might be some nuances in the law for your particular state that effect your situation and a simple online filing might be harmful. Again, this is why it is always beneficial to consult with an attorney before filing and make sure you use a reputable website.
The convenience of an online divorce can be a great way for some parties to save time and money. But this process isn’t for everyone. If you haven’t settled all the issues between you and your partner, it might be best for you to both retain attorneys to find out the best way to solve the remaining issues, as opposed to settling for the efficiency of an online provider. This is a big decision so, as always, do your research on the websites, as well as any attorney you might hire to handle your case.