One can often find advertisements online from companies that purport to sell divorce paperwork. For a fee that is often lower than the cost of hiring an attorney, the notion is that a party can purchase the divorce paperwork online. The hope of many is that they then can complete it and conclude their divorce quickly, inexpensively, and amicably.
The reality, however, is that getting divorced is a lot easier than finding and completing paperwork. No matter what state a party is in, there are specific legal requirements that often have to be met for parties to be divorced.
From residency requirements, separation requirements, and/or waiting periods, there are often various criteria that parties have to meet to file and obtain a divorce. Divorce paperwork is often cumbersome. The laws can vary by state and locality, but parties generally have to file financial statements regarding their income, assets, and debts. Pleadings have also to be completed correctly.
As it relates to children, the parties generally have to put forth a parenting plan or custody schedule that denotes how custody will work for the short and long-term. As it relates to spousal support and child support, this can often involve complex formulas or factors that can vary significantly by case.
Even if the parties can complete this paperwork with one-hundred percent accuracy, the parties would have to agree on all items relating to their property and debt, children, spousal and child support, and attorney’s fees. One issue can literally hang up a settlement.
Even if the parties can complete the paperwork accurately and they agree on one-hundred of the items, in many jurisdictions, a court appearance will often need to be handled to complete the divorce. Without an attorney, this can be daunting. Yes, in some jurisdictions, an appearance may not be required, but that is not always the case.
Additionally, as it relates to settlement paperwork, it is critical that the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. Otherwise, there can be disagreements and problems down the line that might end up costing parties more to resolve later. If parties don’t have an attorney, this is more likely to occur.
Divorce paperwork can also vary by state and county. So, divorce forms from one state or county might not have any applicability to another state or county. Even some judges want to see particular items in divorce paperwork that might vary from another judge in the same state or county.
At the end of the day, while many might wish they can simply contain divorce forms, the process is much more complicated. One should also be skeptical at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars (or more) on the paperwork that was simply run through a copy machine. Think about it: Why should somebody make money just by giving you blank forms?
To the extent that a party is actually intending on representing themselves, court-approved forms can often be found online for free. Even then, it is wise for a party to have legal representation to help walk them through the process and ensure that the divorce is completed thoroughly.
If you need a divorce lawyer, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. We have offices in Missouri and Illinois. You can contact us at 1-855-805-0595.