Type “divorce forms” into an online search engine and you will receive millions of results. With so many options it seems like all you have to do is fill out some info, download a form, and you can get divorced online. Some websites claim to offer all the forms you need for less than $15 bucks. An online divorce seems like a quick and easy way to end your marriage. What could go wrong?
While the internet is a great place to watch movies and buy electronics, it can be a very poor choice for legal advice. Choosing a do-it-yourself divorce kit from a random website may not only be a bad choice, it can be a dangerous one. Here are three reasons to avoid cheap online divorces.
Warning 1: What are you getting?
Online legal form sites use slick marketing to rope you in. They claim everything is free and invite you to start using their easy interface to create your form. Once you have entered all your information, you get a rude surprise. In order to actually download your form, you have to enter your credit card information and pay a fee. So what exactly are these “free” legal forms sites giving you for your hard earned money?
The legal paperwork that is required to obtain a divorce varies from state to state and county to county. With more than 3,000 counties in the United States, any national database of legal forms would require hundred of thousands of variations. Many legal forms sites solve this problem by providing generic one-size-fits all forms. These generic forms may not be the exact forms the Washington divorce court require, but they claim the forms are close enough.
If you are getting a divorce, is close enough good enough for you? Are you willing to settle for generic forms that may or may not be accepted by the court? If your wife has a divorce attorney, do you think he is filing generic online forms with the court? Making changes later to divorce documents may be impossible or, at the very least, legally complicated and expense. You need to get it right.
Court requirements for legal documents change regularly. Even if a website claims to specialize in Washington divorce, there is no guarantee that the forms you download will be the correct and current versions.
Warning 2: Who is providing it?
Who runs that “legal” website you are trusting to handle your divorce? It is highly doubtful it belongs to a law firm licensed to practice law in the state of Washington. Instead of trusting a lawyer, do you really want to put your divorce in the hands of a teenager running a site out of his parent’s basement or a “legal forms” company based in Asia?
These sites make it clear they are not run by attorneys. Look closely at the disclaimer on any legal forms site. You will very likely find something similar to the following:
“We are not licensed to practice law within any jurisdictions of the United States. This website does not represent any law firm or attorneys licensed in your state. We are not a substitute for an attorney, law firm, or competent legal representation. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. You should seek competent legal counsel to review form(s) or document(s) that you have purchased from us.”
Legal forms websites make it abundantly clear what they do not do for you, like provide competent legal advice. With so many things they don’t do, you may be wondering what a legal forms site can actually do for you.
Warning 3: Is your personal information safe?
During a divorce you are required by law to reveal personal and confidential information to the court. You will complete documents with your personal information including your name, address, and occupation. You will make lists of financial assets including bank accounts. You will submit a parenting plan detailing where you children will be each day of the week.
If you are typing this information into a website you just found searching online, who else has access to it? How do you know this site is secure? Such information is a gold mine for identity thieves and online criminals. Are you comfortable giving extensive personal and financial information to a random website?
Attorneys are licensed professionals held to the highest standard of conduct by the State Bar. When you meet with a licensed divorce attorney, you know exactly who you are trusting with your sensitive information and with your divorce. A divorce lawyer is a partner who will actually provide you with competent legal advice, not an anonymous stranger thousands of miles away.
A divorce is one of the major events of your life. The decisions you make during divorce will help build a better and happier future for you and your family. Your divorce is simply too important to trust to a stranger you met online.
Ready to talk to a real person?
Divorce Lawyers For Men™ attorneys help people going through divorce. Meet in person with a Washington divorce lawyer who will be happy to explain the divorce process to you. Call us today at (877) 866-7393 to speak with an attorney who understands your situation and can offer real help.
If you would like more information on the divorce process, or to take the best divorce resources with you in print, please check out our free divorce guide for men or contact our office to meet with an attorney about your particular circumstances.
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