In this modern age of information, it is possible to find tutorials or advice on how to do practically anything you want to do. From auto repair to food preparation, there is an abundance of services available that help you do whatever you want to do. There are even websites or services that assist you in legal matters, usually by assisting you with document preparation. Generally, these services are easy to understand, and can cost much less than typical attorney fees. This convenience, however, is not all that it is cracked up to be. While online services that help you prepare divorce documents can be convenient, and even though they can save you some money in legal fees, they might end up costing you much more in the long run. Below are just a few risks you might incur when preparing documents for your divorce online.
Risk 1: Improper Filing
It’s no surprise that divorce can be a stressful and complex process. In order to even begin a petition for divorce, you must fill out a petition and file it with the court. After the initial filing, the court may need various other forms, such as financial statements, in order to make an appropriate ruling. While online services may seek to assist you in the preparation of these forms, you may have special considerations in your case that might not fit within the parameters of the service. In the end, how a form is filled out depends entirely on the information you provide, and an online service might not be able to ask all of the questions that matter in your case.
Risk 2: Untrustworthy Preparation Services
It’s no secret that the internet is rife with misleading or untrustworthy information. With the multitude of people providing services or information, there comes a greater risk for deceptive or incompetent persons offering assistance. When you use an online service to prepare your divorce documents, you could be putting yourself at risk of several personal risks, including identity theft. Using an untrustworthy service can even have a direct effect on your case if the documents were prepared improperly. It is also possible that your assets might be mishandled or unfairly distributed in the divorce as a result of the assistance or advice of the untrustworthy online service.
Risk 3: Inability to Adapt
Generally, the forms or services you find online to help prepare documents for your divorce will only assist you before you fill out the form. While this might seem like a common sense statement, it has a few implications. First you have to worry about whether the service caters to your specific jurisdiction. The internet covers a multitude of societies and nations, and the specifics of family law vary between jurisdictions. What might be acceptable in California would not be so in Florida. In addition, your case does not end as soon as you file the appropriate documents. Anything can happen that can change the outcome of the case, even after a judgment has been made. Finally, in family law, facts matter. The outcome of a case is determined primarily by the facts, which can include how much a party earns or how much time a spouse spends with the children. If you make an error or misstatement on any documents you might present to the court, then it might be harder to fix the problem later on, and you might even be subject to court sanctions.
Risk 4: Court Sanctions
Not only will you look foolish if you turn in the wrong form or fill in the wrong information, you may even be subject to certain court sanctions, should your forms violate the Florida Supreme Court rules. If the court should so choose, you could wind up paying extra court fees. Depending on the severity of your error, the court may also penalize you in the property division or even in the custody determination. Finally, if you don’t file the appropriate documents at the appropriate time, you may even lose the right to certain advantages or defenses you would have had in ordinary circumstances.
Risk 5: Opposing Party Representation
In addition to all of these personal risks you take when you choose to use online services to complete your documents, there is always the risk that your spouse may have his own attorney to assist him through the divorce process. If this happens, your spouse will be able to work with an experienced professional to help navigate the law in order to meet his own needs in the divorce. You, however, would be at a severe disadvantage in the proceedings, since you will not be able to rely on the further in-court representation of the online preparation service.
Overall, while online services that specialize in preparing documents for divorce can be convenient, there is no substitute for real legal advice. A good attorney can make a world of difference in a divorce case. There is no reason why you should put yourself at risk when preparing your divorce case.