Divorce is never a walk in the park. It frequently demands much more than checking some boxes, filing a few documents, and Voilà, you’re free.  A Legal Zoom divorce may work for some couples—those who have been married for a short time, have no children, no assets, do not need alimony, and agree on everything, including the divorce, may fit nicely into a one-size-fits-all, do it yourself, divorce kit.

But most marriages are complicated, include children and various assets, and even when both individuals agree to the divorce, the process is still highly emotional, and stressful.  The decisions made during a divorce will impact the rest of your life.  If you are considering getting a divorce the Legal Zoom way, bear in mind the following eight things to be wary of.

1.  Failure to Meet Court Requirements

The court requires specific documents, filed within designated time periods, properly filled out and signed before it grants a dissolution of marriage.  There are various ways to make mistakes while completing the necessary requirements for marriage dissolution, which may simply hinder the process or cause serious problems that are difficult to repair.  Examples of common errors, include:

  • Filling out a form wrong or checking the wrong box
  • Not filing a required document
  • Not filing a required document within the required time frame
  • Not filing an objection within the required time frame
  • Failing to address issues that concern the court
  • Using language that is vague, or confusing, that can be misconstrued by the court

Also of note, Legal Zoom is not familiar with the nuances of each city or state of filing, including forms and various rules each of the courts and judges have.

2.  Fixing Mistakes is More Expensive

One of the most common reports from attorneys across the country is the number of calls they receive from individuals who need an attorney to help them fix mistakes they have made while completing an online divorce, such as on Legal Zoom.

Frequently, to fix the mistake, an attorney must start at the very beginning of the dissolution procedure by filing a new complaint.  The paperwork must be served properly, and allow the imposed waiting time to elapse.  Correct forms need to be processed, and a new separation agreement will need to be drafted, and signed, before a divorce decree can be obtained from the court.  Fixing mistakes often requires substantially more time and cost than would have been the case if an attorney had been involved from the beginning.

3.  Future Financial Claims

Attorneys are seeing a rise in clients who need advice after their online divorce has proved inadequate in protecting their future financial assets from their former spouse.  A dissolution of marriage does not establish that your assets are protected against a claim from your ex-spouse, and without a final order, there is no time limit for these claims that may go after your property, money, or pension.

4.  Emotional Duress

A heightened emotional state is common during divorce and a barrage of varying, and intense feelings may plague both spouses during the process.  Sadness, fear, anger, confusion, and depression often eliminate your ability to be objective about significant issues, and your judgement will be distorted.  This is not the ideal time to try to make judicious resolutions about your future.  Online divorces allow you to make choices that are not in your best interest, either now or in the future, and a computer cannot adequately help you get those emotions under control or do what is in YOUR best interests.

5.  Post-Decree Costs

Once you are granted a divorce decree in Virginia, the provisions set forth for property division, child custody, child and/or spousal support can be changed only under specific circumstances.  Law firms are reporting an increase in the number of post-decree matters they are being asked to handle from divorcees who handled their case on their own.  Situations can include errors on agreements, to a complete omission of a critical matter.  The legal fees incurred for post-decree matters often equal or exceed what the divorce would have originally cost if done correctly.

6.  No Human Interaction

When you work with a site such as Legal Zoom, be prepared for no human interaction, and zero emotional connection.  A frequent complaint with most online divorce sites, is that when you do have a problem, it may take you days, or weeks, to talk to a human, even when you have paid significant amounts of money for their service.

7.  Hidden Fees

The original cost quoted on Legal Zoom is habitually far short of the total cost, after added fees.  In many cases, a downloaded legal document is not sufficient or advisable for specific cases, and requires advice from an experienced attorney.  Like other sites, Legal Zoom will connect you with an attorney in your area for an additional cost, but does not guarantee the best legal help available.

8.  Flawed Documents

Documents that are out of date, or incorrect may get rejected.  Forms, if not standard and recognized by all parties in the transaction, including the county clerks, may not be accepted or recorded.  Forms from Legal Zoom my work fine, or may be rejected, depending on the institution and the individual reviewing the document.  Forms that are not like forms they are accustomed to, may not be accepted, even if there is nothing constitutionally wrong with the document.  Legal Zoom does not guarantee that its site or material will satisfy your requirements or that the outcomes will be correct and reliable.

You won’t receive expert advice on your divorce settlement from Legal Zoom.  In fact, you won’t receive any advice at all.  Call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184 before you try to do it yourself, and sit down for a consultation with our experienced men’s divorce attorneys.  You won’t regret it.

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