What to Know about “Low Cost” Online Divorce Services
There are document production companies such as Legalzoom or even lawyers that advertise very “low priced divorces” for as low as $250.00 or so that we have seen. What is going on here is a “do it yourself divorce” as they have set forms that were not written for you specifically, but generally cover the common divorce concerns that they provide for you to use and get yourself divorced. They will also charge an “upgrade” fee to add the child custody and child support documents you need or really any other documents specific to your case. That can immediately cost you another $250.00 at times. So with the Court filing fee, which you still have to pay you can quickly be having to pay $750.00 for what you thought up front to be a “low priced divorce”.
They will not spend much time discussing the details of the case with you, if at all. You will receive documents in the mail or by email to print off and take it or leave it. If you want another draft to be done then you need to pay another fee of $250 or more. You can probably tell how they make some money under this system. Now you will be passing $1,000.00 for your “low priced divorce” and you still aren’t even dropping documents off or really started the process of your divorce at the courthouse. They will not work with the Court and will not help you get everything signed or completed properly, but may give you an instruction form to do it yourself.
For what it is worth, every judge and judge’s clerk I know doesn’t like them for various reasons, but mainly because there is more not applicable language included that has to read through to understand what the DIYer divorcee is actually asking the Court to order and most of the time they can tell a “packet” divorce set compared to a lawyer’s produced set of divorce documents without hardly looking at them.
You will have to appear in front of the judge and explain your “do it yourself” divorce and your documents and answer the judge’s questions by yourself. The judge by law cannot help you and let some aspects “slide” because you did it yourself. Because of this it will take longer to get divorced in many cases and especially will if there are mistakes or incomplete documents and you have to get them fixed and re-submitted. If you hire a lawyer in many counties in Georgia you do not have to appear in Court or even step foot in the courthouse as the lawyer will take care of all of this for you. Finally, you will miss out on sound attorney to client advice related to your specific situation from the experience of a lawyer that has done hundreds and even thousands of other divorces and there could be options or terms to be a part of your divorce that would have made a great difference, but you never knew about them. Whereas, you hire a lawyer in the traditional sense you get that specific customization for your situation and can tap into the experience of having done a divorce hundreds and even thousands of times before and how any of that experience applies to you.
At the end of the day I do not want you to think no one should hire a “do it yourself divorce” low cost option. I do however, want you to be informed about what you are and are not buying when you do. If you would like more information about this before you hand away $250 dollars for a DIY option to get divorced, I would encourage you to read our free E-Book entitled “Pitfalls of DIY Divorce” to read parts at this link or we can email the whole E-book to you by giving our office your email address. For some people DIY divorce works because they can figure it out and they are lucky that the risks they confront to do so will never come up later in their life because they get along so well with their soon to be spouse. These are the main reasons a “do it yourself divorce” option could work out for you. But for all too many it is a mistake they come to regret for months and years and even the rest of their life in some cases. On one hand it is an attractive option because it costs so much less, but on the other hand it is poor, disconnected service for some of the biggest decisions of your life. We say this because every. single. family. is. different. Each is like an ice cream shop made of different flavors and toppings and we all want to make our sundae that fits us. Rare is a family that a chocolate/vanilla swirl from a gas station is the right flavor to walk out with.
We personally here at Mitchell & Crunk think the “do it yourself divorce” low cost option should exist and we at times under the right circumstances have helped clients in a “do it yourself” format when it is the best fit, but from what we see and hear about in the industry these advertised companies, like Legalzoom or online ads attracting folks to a “do it yourself divorce” do not always make the considerations spelled out here as clear as they should. So people make too many uneducated decisions that lead to problems that a capable family lawyer will then have to clean up later, if even possible for a lot more money.
Bottom line is, take the time to be informed and knowledgeable of your whole situation specific to your divorce by consulting with a traditional family law attorney before you are enticed to sign up with a low cost “do it yourself divorce” option online.