A variety of internet companies are offering applications and services to allow people to “affordably” file for divorce. Affordable is a relative term because most of these companies still charge several thousand dollars to prepare your divorce documents. This article will discuss how these programs improperly file your divorce papers and the consequences that you face.
These programs are all variations of DIY (or “do-it-yourself”), which means that if something goes wrong it is all on you. A law firm offers the protection of having a professional review your paperwork for errors. So, because you are not experienced in these procedures, you are entirely reliant on the DIY software being accurate.
This reliance can be a problem because, even though most states have adopted ‘no-fault’ style divorce, there is still a great deal of variation among the states. It is even possible for the divorce forms between individual judicial jurisdictions or counties to be different. It is possible that generic national services, like these apps, can miss critical details or fill out your paperwork incorrectly.
Generally, if your paperwork is incorrect the court rejects it and you start over. But, it is possible that your documents may improperly fill out the information and the court accepts it anyway. Once the court accepts your divorce decree it is difficult, or sometimes impossible, to get it reversed. As stated above, all of these mistakes are entirely on your shoulders.
Moreover, these programs only work if you and your ex-spouse are in agreement regarding all important issues. If anything complicated arises such as: child custody, support or dividing retirement accounts – then these programs are not very useful. The moment that one of you decides to throw a monkey wrench in the process, these programs are less helpful.
It is possible to have your paperwork reviewed by an attorney. This may be the safest option to ensure that your rights are properly represented. You will still be filing as DIY but an attorney may be able to help you. If any disputes arise definitely contact an attorney to some advice. Streamlining and decreasing costs are admirable goals but don’t risk your rights to save some money.
Source: CNBC, “Up next: Swipe right for a divorce,” Jessica Dickler, Mar. 6th, 2016.