Using an Online Divorce Service to Save Money
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When making the decision to get married, we generally do so with the best of intentions.
Partners set out living their lives together in anticipation of the relationship being “til death do us part”.
Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way of best intentions.
That's why so many seemingly solid marriages at the onset end up with the happy couple holding divorce papers and parting ways.
Fortunately, divorce is available to help people right the wrongs of a marriage gone bad.
While the general trend in the United States over the last decade has rates of marriage and divorce declining, many couples do end their marital relationships (often splitting over money.).
The majority of people use a lawyer when it comes time to get divorced, yet online divorce options are now more readily available.
People thinking about using an online divorce service to prepare their legal documents are usually looking for a quick, easy, and affordable way to “untie the knot.”
Should you consider an online divorce as a way to save money that would normally go to a divorce attorney?
While there are certain advantages to using online divorce forms or services, there are plenty of drawbacks too.
Even if you’re looking to get out of your marriage as fast and affordably as you can, don’t make the mistake of choosing an online service without careful consideration of your circumstances.
It may be very difficult to change the terms of a divorce agreement if you rush into one and make mistakes.
The Pros of Online Divorce Services
There are a number of advantages to getting an online divorce. Here are some of the key benefits of these services:
One of the reasons people simply separate as opposed to divorcing is because the process can get very expensive. Of course, the biggest cost of divorce is the fees for hiring an attorney.
If a divorce is contested, the process of reaching a marital settlement agreement can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Even an uncontested divorce can reach an average cost of just over $4,000, depending on the state of record.
Yet, online divorce legal services are quite affordable for a lot of reasons, including:
- You get to fill out the forms, saving on lawyer fees for them doing so
- You save time and money by filing documents and forms directly online versus making multiple office visits to your attorney on business days
- The judicial review process is fast and efficient, which saves on the cost by allowing you to attend to other matters in your life (i.e. less time off work, less stress that can impact your health)
2. Time Savings
When someone uses a law firm to handle their divorce process, they generally leave themselves at the mercy of their attorney's schedule.
An attorney with a thriving business is unlikely to drop everything to focus solely on handling your divorce settlement agreement.
Instead, they are going to prioritize their workload the same way anyone else would.
By filing your divorce packet online, you decide how fast you want to get the filing process completed and the level of personal or premium service you need.
Since some online divorce processors tend to focus solely on this one specific line of work, they're more likely to give the processing of your divorce a higher level of priority. That makes online filing a great time-savings divorce option.
3. Lowers the Possibility of Filing Mistakes
Most online divorce platforms require clients to go through a methodical and detailed filing process.
In doing so, they require clients to fill in all of the needed information, which requires research and forethought.
Because of this approach, filers are forced to be careful about what information they provide and how they answer questions. They're alerted about being very careful while under the threat of potential processing delays for errors.
By the way, people filing for divorce online may do so in a far less emotional state.
When emotion is removed (or limited) during the process, it creates circumstances under which filers will be in better control of their faculties.
That makes it easier to focus on providing the right information the first time, eliminating the need for later corrections.
4. Less Confrontational
While some divorces are amicable, far too many divorces end up being confrontational. The direction in which a divorce goes usually depends on the circumstances that led up to the desire to divorce.
When divorcing partners get confrontational, they become non-productive while focusing more on attacking one another.
By filing for divorce online, there's no need for face-to-face meetings with the spouse.
That eliminates the possibility of disagreements and arguments, which serves to make the legal process go faster and smoother.
5. Less Pressure
If you were to sit down at your computer to start filling out your online divorce information, you might experience various emotions but should feel very little pressure.
After all, it's just you, the computer, and the information you need to provide.
If you start to feel pressure or become overwhelmingly anxious or sad about the process, you are in control.
You retain the ability to take a break, relax, and pick up where you left off when you're feeling more calm and balanced.
The Cons of Online Divorce Services
The cons of online divorce may provide you with reasons to avoid considering this as a viable option.
Here are five drawbacks that are worthy of consideration:
1. Only Viable in Uncontested Situations
If, by chance, the divorce is going to be contested, it's unlikely an online divorce option is going to suffice.
Contested divorces require people to interact, often requiring intervention from attorneys or a mediation session with intermediaries.
Here are some of the potential contested issues that would be difficult to address through an online divorce filing process:
- Property settlements
- Minor child custody issues
- Spousal support issues (alimony/child support)
- Children with special or exceptional needs
- Addressing abuse in marriage issues
- Business ownership issues
- Complicated financial issues (i.e., credit card or other debt, unpaid taxes, unfiled returns)
2. Future Changes to Divorce Decree are Near Impossible
Once you submit an online divorce filing and it's been finalized, the terms of the divorce are likely “etched in stone.”
Should you want to change anything about the divorce decree in the future, you would not be permitted to do so online.
If you really needed to make a change, you would have to go through a lengthy legal process that might or might not get you the results you want.
3. Scam Websites
Any time you are transacting any kind of business online, you must be wary of hackers and scammers. They're focused on getting your money and or personal information by any means necessary.
Yes, that can apply to an online divorce platform that gladly takes your money while not delivering the divorce for which you paid.
Instead, you’ll lose money, waste time, and possibly deal with identity theft due to providing Social Security numbers. And you still won’t be divorced.
4. Risk of Legal Mistakes
Any time you take on the responsibility for a legal process, you have to remember you are not trained as an attorney.
While filing for divorce online, you'll be asked to answer questions, provide a contact address and other personal data, and submit certain documents to facilitate the divorce, all under penalty of perjury.
Not knowing the laws surrounding certain aspects of the divorce process, you could be more apt to make legal filing mistakes. This could result in delays in the divorce filing process or cause other concerns affecting your legal rights.
5. Doesn’t Guarantee You Won’t End Up in Court
You may think that your online divorce means you’ll avoid heading to court with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Yet there are plenty of things that can go wrong, resulting in you spending time in court and possibly needing to hire a lawyer.
If you miss deadlines in the filing process, desire to make changes to your agreement, or if your amicable split becomes contentious, a court date and further judicial review are likely in your future.
Final Thoughts on Using Online Divorce Services
Should you want to consider going with an online divorce, you now have an idea of the benefits and possible pitfalls of doing so.
As you can see, you can't simply assume that you’ll be able to quickly move on with your life by getting an online divorce.
But if your situation is not complicated and you're both in agreement that an online divorce makes sense and suits your needs, there are substantial cost savings available for filing the divorce online.
Next: How Much Does Estate Planning Cost?
Written by Women Who Money Cofounders Vicki Cook and Amy Blacklock.
Amy and Vicki are the coauthors of Estate Planning 101, From Avoiding Probate and Assessing Assets to Establishing Directives and Understanding Taxes, Your Essential Primer to Estate Planning, from Adams Media.