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What to consider before filing for divorce online

Jennifer A. Brandt is a family law attorney specializing in divorce, custody, alimony, support and distributions of assets who is a member of the law firm Cozen O'Connor and who answers legal questions on Avvo.com, a free social media pl...

Can the web unwed you?

The internet is full of endless possibilities. You can shop online, take classes online and watch your favorite TV shows and movies online. But what about using the internet to get a divorce?

stressed woman on computer

While it may sound crazy, a number of websites are offering this service today. With many of these sites touting their services as easy, private and fast, getting a divorce online can seem like an attractive proposition. After all, divorces are usually fraught with tension and animosity — what better way to avoid these emotions than to file online?

Yet, while the promise of a fast and easy online divorce free of attorney fees may sound good to some couples, it’s important to remember that, as with most legal cases, divorces aren’t generally simple transactions. Besides the many emotions that go into divorce, there are a number of aspects of divorce that require more reflection than simply clicking yes/no boxes on an online form. Also, state and county laws can be complicated and diverse, and require the thoughtful counsel of an attorney to interpret and settle your affairs correctly.

A “traditional” divorce may not be as quick and easy as one promised online, but it can be resolved in a professional manner where both parties are able to move forward positively. So before ordering up an online divorce to avoid facing your ex, here are five important things to keep in mind.

1

A divorce is still a lawsuit

Most people would not resolve a civil matter, much less a criminal matter, online. Further, most aspects of a divorce, especially those concerning property division are final, permanent and incapable of being changed in the future. Thus, the matter is too serious to be done online without careful thought, guidance and expertise that an attorney can offer.

2

The court system is not designed to be user-friendly

Laws and statutes vary from state to state and often times from county to county. Even experienced attorneys must take the time to properly understand the rules for filing and processing a divorce efficiently and accurately. No online service can produce with 100 percent accuracy the processing of every divorce in countless jurisdictions.

3

Attorneys can be helpful intermediaries

Most parties who are divorcing are doing so because they cannot get along. Expecting that they will be able to use an online service to navigate and agree on the complex issues involved in property division and other aspects of a divorce settlement is unrealistic. Instead of saving money, couples can find that if not done properly, a divorce agreement done online can actually cost them more than if they used an experienced attorney in the first place.

4

Cutting corners financially is not a wise decision

Besides the risk of finding yourself with costs associated with “fixing” an online divorce, it’s simply a good idea to have a relationship with the attorney handling your divorce. Divorce is a highly personal matter, and couples should invest in a lawyer who can help them navigate the process in a thoughtful and cost-effective manner.

5

It’s always best to be fully informed

For any legal issue, it’s always important to seek out the proper information necessary to make an informed decision about your situation. While an online divorce may actually be as promised — fast and cheap — there’s no substitute for the knowledge and insights that experienced attorneys share with their clients.

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