Choosing between traditional and technological methods of divorce is not simply about cost.
Divorce could be simultaneously one of the most emotional and detail-oriented issues a person will go through in their life. The increasing embrace of the digital world for cost- and time-saving online forms for divorce demonstrate how essential work of a family law divorce lawyer are for making certain a divorce is sufficiently managed. Unlike online forms, divorce could never be regarded as “one size fits all.” The available online forms are cookie-cutter and too generic.
Numerous different types of people get divorced. The only marriage an online divorce might work for are those which marriage was brief and that also have no retirement, no assets, no property and no kids. For these marriages, an online form might be cheaper than hiring an attorney. However, this assumes the divorcing parties are experienced enough to comply with both the Family Code and applicable court rules. If not, one risks showing up to court to complete their divorce just to be informed by the court that they need to start over at square one. Even in these situations, it is usually cheaper and faster to hire an attorney to do the job right.
A quick search of Facebook, Craiglist or even Google will show numerous sources offering “cheap, quick and effortless online divorces.” Oftentimes they go by labels such as notarios. This is to prey on the immigrant communities, who often do not recognize that in the United States, notarios are not licensed to practice law. These services might state that you could get a divorce for as little as $250. This is actually typical in Harris County, which is strange, considering the filing fee for a divorce in that county is more than that. Sadly for people who fall victim to these cons, it usually will cost you more to clean up the mess.
One of the first steps in filing for divorce is usually what trips up people trying to do it without an attorney. This is the problem of service. In a divorce, just like in any civil case, the petitioner must serve the respondent with the petition. They must supply proof to the courtroom of this with a return citation filed with the court. Improper execution of this step will restrict the divorce from finalizing. Frequently, the respondent can’t be found or is actively hiding. In these types of situations, I have yet to find a non-attorney who can browse the procedural waters solo. Here once again, both time and funds could be saved by simply hiring an attorney.
Occasionally spouses agree to divorce and even agree on how to divide their assets. When a couple is in this particular scenario and one partner suggests using an online form, this raises a great reddish flag. Is the spouse hiding assets? Are they trying to claim individual real estate that should be community property? In many marriages, one spouse controls the finances more than the other. There might also be educational or professional advantages one party has over the other. An attorney will be in a position to map the community property and recognize any individual property. If the arrangement is truly as reasonable as the spouse makes it appear, this will be quickly confirmed by consulting with an attorney. Simply separating assets without a professional involved is a slippery slope. Frequently these types of divorce cases end up being reopened by the courtroom, if the injured party is in a position to hire an attorney in adequate time after the fact. Once this happens, these cases become very expensive for the litigants.