Can I Really Do a Pro Se Divorce Online?
The popularity of pro se filing has increased with the coming of the information age and online divorce.
In an online divorce, the spouses use a web-based service that helps them prepare their divorce papers. Many couples file pro se using materials obtained online, with software and/or a web-based (online) service that helps divorcing spouses complete and prepare divorce papers, forms, and/or documents for filing with the court. The spouses must be in agreement with one another regarding the divorce and any issues that need to be resolved. Under these circumstances, the divorce is a more affordable option because they can prepare their paperwork and file for divorce without a lawyer.
An online divorce is not designed or sold to replace the services of a divorce lawyer. Some spouses who take advantage of what an online divorce has to offer also hire a lawyer to review the divorce documents before signing and submitting them to the court. No matter what, an online divorce has the ability to reduce or eliminate legal fees.
A large number of couples using online divorce services are pro se filers who feel comfortable filing for divorce without hiring a lawyer, since all issues regarding property, debt, alimony/spousal support, custody, child support, and visitation have been agreed upon. They do not believe there is a true benefit of getting a divorce lawyer involved.
One of the most attractive features of an online divorce is the ease with which the parties prepare the paperwork required as part of the filing procedure. After answering an online questionnaire, the divorce papers are either printed directly from his or her own computer or they are sent in the mail.
If one is shopping for an online divorce, care must be taken. The buyer must beware and choose a reputable company with a history. In recent years, there have been several start-ups that provide very generic, non-state specific forms with little or no support and no filing instructions. Some online divorce companies provide an online solution that instantly delivers the completed forms by utilizing a web-based software application; thus the papers are available immediately for printing once the appropriate information is provided through an online questionnaire. This type of online divorce gives a couple the most control over their own divorce, and it is recognized as the fastest way to complete and mange the paperwork because it is in computerized format.
Other more primitive online divorce companies collect customer information through the Internet, process the papers in-house, and then mail the documents to the customer. This is a more or less a traditional method of providing a divorce service, just without the office visits. This type of online divorce adds delivery and waiting period to received the initial paperwork and any updates or changes.
Most online divorce companies do not provide legal advice. They can direct a party in the right direction, but legal advice is rarely, if ever, included since it requires a licensed attorney and some type of client engagement. A majority of spouses deciding to do their own divorce have already become knowledgeable as to what may or may not be involved, so legal advice is rarely needed.
Some Common Questions
Q. What is the advantage to online divorce?
A. Online divorces are easy because many guide the filer through the process with step-by-step instructions. Some have practice model forms for comparison.
Q. What should the consumer consider in choosing an online divorce provider?
A. The buyer must choose a reputable company with a history. Generic, non-state specific forms with little or no support and no filing instructions are not much help in a divorce filing. Some online divorce companies provide instant delivery of completed forms. Thus the divorce papers are available immediately for printing once filer provides the appropriate information. In addition to speed, this type of online divorce gives a couple the most control over their divorce.
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