In today’s world, you can do just about anything online. You can get a degree, buy a car, and even run a business online with little to no in-person requirements. The convenience alone is a welcome relief to our busy lives, but that convenience comes with a false sense of security. Do-it-yourself tasks online don’t always guarantee you’ve done everything you need to do.
Divorces can be done online, technically. But hidden challenges and complexities come to haunt former couples who thought the whole thing was over. You don’t know what you don’t know. Still, the task of finding an attorney and going through the process the old-fashioned way is overwhelming. And often more expensive than many folks can afford.
Choosing between the ease and convenience of an online divorce or the security and expertise of a more traditional route is not a simple decision. Unfortunately, it’s one that can have serious and long-term consequences. So, how do you choose? What do you need to know?
As a family law attorney well-versed in divorce proceedings, I can offer my insight and experience to help you make your decision. One blog post isn’t enough to recommend what every person should do. However, I can offer you a few things you need to know before you make your decision.
1. Your divorce will be final, until it’s not.
Final should be final. Except, if your divorce isn’t handled properly, you may end up back in court down the road.
If you have no assets, no kids, no debt, and you’ve been married only a short time, then you might be okay. You don’t need to worry about custody, visitations, retirements, alimony, or any of the other complicated parts of divorce. You may very well be a good candidate for doing your divorce online.
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll have at least one of these things. Online forms for divorce aren’t always complex enough. If the form doesn’t sufficiently breakdown who gets what, you’ll end up back in court to make that division. And if you or your spouse has a 401K that should have been divided between you, you’ll need another form (a QDRO) as well. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the complexities involved with children in a divorce.
2. You’ll be guessing when filling out forms.
Chances are, you are not a divorce attorney. This isn’t your specialty, and it is complicated. When you go to complete the forms you need, doing so on your own may leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated. You can search the Internet for advice, but you can’t always trust what you find.
This isn’t the kind of thing you want to guess on.
3. Filling out forms does not prepare you for the courthouse.
“Online” divorce is misleading - you will need to visit the courthouse at some point. Forms in hand, you’ll head up to the courthouse in your most professional attire and…do what?
Where will you go? To whom do you need to speak? In what courtroom? Do you have everything you need?
If you can enter the courthouse knowing all the answers, then that’s wonderful. But most people don’t have the time, energy, or desire to teach themselves something they hope to never do again.
Divorce is complicated. If you’re well-situated for a simple online divorce, then maybe that’s the right choice for you. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. You’re dealing with enough on your end. Doing all the research needed to accurately complete your divorce online - or taking the risk without the research - may not be worth the “convenience” of doing it online.
Consider your options first, and make sure to pick the route that works best for you and your family.