Opinion: the perils of an online “cookie cutter” divorce

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

In discussing divorce, media commentators sometimes query whether a proven family law attorney with ample experience across the broad spectrum of divorce-related considerations really needs to be on board in a marital dissolution proceeding.

Truly, how hard can a computer-assisted do-it-yourself divorce be? Is it necessary to muck up the process with details and added levels of complexity relating to matters like child custody and visitation, support and property division?

Maybe not — if you’re in close proximity with Einstein’s gene pool.

Brendan Lyle, a family law contributor to the Huffington Post, recently visited the topic of online divorce, an offered process that is replete with generic and boilerplate forms.

Yes, it’s cheap, at least at the outset. Lyle queries, though, about the ultimate costs for someone who relies upon forms and processes that do not even remotely consider the singular aspects involved in a given divorce.

Here’s his take. “In essence,” he notes, “money spent on a qualified lawyer will pay back in multiples.”

And here’s why. In most instances, divorce is a complex business that requires hard-earned and highly specialized knowledge over a host of legal areas. Marital property needs to be identified and valued. Statutory guidelines regarding custody and support often play a huge part in many divorces. Perhaps alimony is a consideration. Myriad other factors can loom large.

Going it alone, says Lyle, works as an automatic forfeiture of input from a legal professional who commands unique insight and skills into a subject area of great importance. Getting things wrong can bring a lifetime of dire consequences.

In fact, it’s often virtually impossible for a lay person to even make sense of the divorce process.

Lyle simply concludes that trying to secure a divorce by foregoing the strong and steady input of an experienced attorney in lieu of a computer-assisted process and “cookie cutter document and routines” is akin to “trying to learn a language from a DVD the week before you leave on vacation.”

So, unless you’re a linguist of the highest order, you might want to take a hard and studied look at those online forms before you press a submit button.

Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all business, so why do it online?” Brendan Lyle, April 8, 2014

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