How to Hire an Online Uncontested Divorce Forms Preparer

The first article in this sequence dealt with the choice facing new divorce consumers between hiring a lawyer and hiring a non-lawyer to provide uncontested divorce services. Assuming the question had been answered in favor of the non-lawyer option, the second article in the sequence addressed the next choice: that between a traditional office or “bricks-and-mortar” paralegal and an online divorce forms preparer.

This third article in the sequence assumes that the second question was answered in favor of the online option. It would not be my greatest prediction ever to tell you that the online divorce forms preparation option is the path that more uncontested divorces will be taking in the future. Online is where the greatest cost savings and some pretty cool software advances are already available. It’s where the non-lawyer divorce industry is going.

How to drill down further now into the choices facing divorce consumers who have decided to hire an online divorce provider? There aren’t any more industry dichotomies to guide the analysis. So drilling down further, to provide additional guidance for the divorce consumer, inevitably must broaden into an analysis of the quality and integrity of the top 10 nationwide websites offering online divorce form preparation plus an unknown number of local or regional online providers across the country.

That is what this and the next, and final, article in this series will do.

I’ll continue to use the format of the prior two articles to address issues one at a time. Separating the issues enables the individual divorce consumer to attach her own significance to each issue. However, don’t think for a moment that the issues highlighted separately below and in the final article in this sequence will each hit you separately. They can and will be mixed and matched in almost any blend on any site offering online divorce forms preparation.

Feel-Good vs. Actual Divorce Form Preparation Sites: This is not to be disrespectful to feel-good sites. They provide a valuable service to some, but they do not provide divorce form preparation services. They provide access to divorce articles, divorce coaches, counselors, divorce books, divorce discussion groups and blogs. Some branch out to mediators and divorce lawyers. Some sell blank forms or provide “free” forms (more on that scam in the final article in the sequence).

There is nothing wrong with these sites, beyond any such scams, as long as you recognize these sites for what they are and realize that while they may provide some valuable services, they won’t prepare your divorce papers for you. There is a lot of these sites. It’s easy to recognize them because they don’t prominently display pricing for divorce document preparation.

My Advice: Avoid these sites unless you alone determine that you need them. Don’t get emotionally enticed into services you neither want or need. Be careful about providing personal info or an email address on feel-good sites. Some of these sites are lead generators for lawyers or legal services plans that will try to sign you up for such plans that cost $20 or $50 per month on an auto-billing basis. If you want to hire a lawyer or sign up for a legal services plan, do it yourself. Don’t get duped in while you’re looking for divorce forms preparation.

Claimed Experience Level: Almost all of the top 10 nationwide online divorce forms preparers have been around since the late 1990’s or early 2000’s – no surprise there – the Internet boom. They are well experienced. You definitely want to hire experience even if it costs a little more.

My Advice: Try to find evidence about how long the online provider has been in existence. The gems to be found in this consideration are the smaller local or regional online divorce providers who have experience of pre-Internet divorce through a “bricks and mortar” company in your area. I would not make a strong argument that someone with 30 years’ experience in uncontested divorce is substantially better than someone with “only” 8-10 years, but it is a minor consideration.

Regional vs. National: Some online divorce forms preparers are nationwide. Others have remained local or regional. My opinion is that local or regional providers will be better for you just because they are closer to you and handle cases from a smaller catchment area and are more likely to know the quirks of your local court.

For example, it is unlikely that a large national online divorce forms preparer in Maryland will know that in Ventura County, California, there is very precise wording required (beyond that required by law) in a Marital Settlement Agreement for a marriage over 10 years when there is a waiver of spousal support by either party. The Maryland outfit will only discover that when you tell them your papers have just been rejected after a two month processing delay at the court. No doubt, that Maryland divorce provider will then recover and correct the problem. You will then re-submit your divorce papers and wait another two months for the result of that submission. This is called crisis management. All online divorce form preparers employ crisis management to some extent. Many courts are different. A few are difficult. All change constantly, and most think that only they know the law. However, the smaller and more local your online divorce forms preparer, the more local knowledge they will have, the faster they will acquire it and the less likely is your case to get caught up and delayed in such adjustments.

My Advice: If you have the option (and sometimes you won’t), go with a smaller local or regional online divorce forms preparer, but if the choice is between local/regional and inexperienced or nationwide and experienced, definitely go with the experience every time. Experience is a larger factor than location and local knowledge, but even 2-3 years of experience should be enough if you can find someone local.

Price Advertising Nonsense: Obviously you want to know the full and final price before you pay a dime. Almost all of the top 10 national sites are upfront and clear in their onsite pricing – so no problem there. But the problem is in the advertising of fees in text or banner ads on Google or similar advertisement distribution systems. These are the ads you will likely see that attract you to a particular site in the first place.

What to watch for here are phrases like, “from $150,” “starting at $200” or the popular, “start your case for $175.” You want either a full and clear advertisement of the all-inclusive price or no advertisement of price at all. Teasers or up-selling are not helpful. Regrettably, this type of practice seems to be more pervasive in smaller local online divorce providers, no doubt because they are trying to become larger.

The reason that no advertisement of pricing is fine is that some online divorce providers still divide uncontested divorce fees into “with children” and “without children.” Some even add extra for a Marital Settlement Agreement, which most cases will need. There’s nothing wrong with such menu pricing, though in the age of divorce software, it should not be necessary. Make sure any menu pricing and up-selling possibilities are clearly indicated on-site.

Another troubling and developing piece of price nonsense that I’ve noticed recently is that a small group of regional sites in California has morphed to an higher price level, namely “starting at $349,” but conceals their pricing on-site in the obvious hope of getting you to begin their interview process before you find the actual price of your case. When you get to a site, if you cannot discover the stated complete all-inclusive price with one or fewer clicks, walk away.

The best indication you can get of no shenanigans in price is an online divorce form preparer that both advertises and quotes on-site a full unconditional all-inclusive price with no ups or extras. As far as I’m aware only one California regional site does that, though I’m sure there are other regional outfits around the country who plait it dead straight on price. Most of the top 10 national sites offer straight-forward no-nonsense pricing on their sites, but do not mention price at all in their advertising. I deduce that is because they know they cannot compete with hungrier cheaper local competitors and think that their only chance is to get you onto their sites to find out what their pricing is like.

My Advice: Uncontested divorce pricing is not rocket science. This is an easy piece of misleading nonsense for an online divorce provider to avoid. They either say nothing about price in their advertising or their advertising tells you unconditionally what the price is. If an online provider has to play around with pricing, either in advertising or on-site, there’s more playing to come. Stay away.

Local County Forms: This is connected to the choice between national and local online divorce providers.

States are responsible for divorce laws, procedures and forms. You might think that would be the end of that consideration, but it is not. Over time, local judges and courts have developed their own local county forms to take care of small legal or procedural issues not covered by state law or to deal with issues that have been found, for some reason, to be problems at local level though not at state level. State judicial officials tend to let this happen as long as the local form does not detract from or interfere with any state law, rule or procedure. As a long-term result, almost all divorce filings will involve some local forms, as well as state ones.

It is tough to keep up with all of these local forms and all the changes that are constantly made to them, as well as keeping up with the bulk of state forms. For example, California has 58 counties, each with local divorce forms.

Larger national divorce providers will keep up with 50 sets of state forms, but they are not even going to try to keep up with 3000 sets of local forms. Local online divorce providers might keep up with their local county forms if they have professional integrity. Again, as my 32 years of high volume divorce experience is all from within California, I must provide an example of what I know, though this occurs nationwide. Of the approximately 15 national or local online providers that control the California online divorce market, only two specifically state that they cover local forms and both of those are local online providers.

Look at the top of the site you’re thinking of hiring. The key words you are looking for to discover this problem are something like, “Our low fee covers all the state-approved forms your case will require.” Yes, that’s right. These are dishonest statements and you should wonder what else is being hidden. Such a company takes a deficiency in their service and dresses it up as what seems like a positive sales point. Sure they handle all state forms. Who doesn’t? But they decline to advise you that your case will almost certainly require local divorce forms and you are on your own if that is so.

How and why does this matter? Because when you go to court to file your divorce papers, the happy filing clerk will throw any missing local form at you and reject your filing. You then go home, call your online provider and ask “what the heck?” They will tell you quite accurately that they told you up front that they would only provide state-approved forms. I think this is dishonest.

My Advice: Once again, the takeaway here is an obvious no-brainer – avoid this problem altogether by hiring a local or regional online divorce forms preparer – not a larger national firm. Look on their site for a promise that both state and local or county forms are covered.

I hope and trust that this has been informative and helpful to you in your considerations of how to proceed on your divorce case. The fourth and final article in this sequence will focus on the “free” divorce forms scam.

Benefits of Hiring Capable Legal Representation

Individuals who find themselves facing civil or criminal charges have the right to legal representation. It is important for the accused to choose carefully when hiring an attorney. Aside from the fact that a regular citizen is unfamiliar with court proceedings and the specifics of the law, a lawyer is best suited to perform certain activities on behalf of the client. For instance, there are court documents that only the defendant or the defendant’s legal representation can access, such as the certificate of disposition, which states the final disposition of a case, or its current status, if court proceedings are still ongoing. That is only the beginning. Here are some of the cases that you might become involve in and the merits of having capable representation to guide and see you through the legal proceedings.

Benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney

An attorney can help you fight for compensation after you have incurred serious physical injury. For example, if you were involved in an accident, an aggressive and effective lawyer can help you take on the corporation responsible for the negligent actions that led to the unfortunate event. Since big corporations have their own lawyers, and oftentimes they want to insist on preventing the employee from receiving fair compensation, you need to have a personal injury lawyer whose training and experience allows them to put your cause forward.

When you have valid grounds for demanding payments for injuries caused by another, you are sure to get your due if an attorney is forceful and determined. Recovering damages is easier if someone can make a strong argument and has the necessary skills to win the case for you. When a settlement cannot be negotiated, do not take the risk of jeopardizing your chances at getting just compensation. Instead of filing a claim by yourself, hire a personal injury lawyer who knows what he is doing.

Benefits of hiring a trial attorney

If you are accused of a crime, the best recourse is to hire an experienced criminal attorney. Hiring a criminal lawyer reduces the stresses felt by the accused quite significantly. Knowing that someone who is an authority on the case is intent on winning the battle for you can ease off some of the worries. Hire a lawyer who has already helped clear the name of other innocents, who were wrongfully accused. Your case is in very good hands if your lawyer has a huge percentage of success in acquitting defendants. Having a capable legal representative by your side and looking after your own interests is the first step towards overcoming the huge hurdle that people accused of criminal acts must face.

A criminal lawyer is also a person that you can talk to-someone to listen as you voice out your concerns and worries. He or she will be with you every step of the way, until your name is cleared of all accusations. A criminal lawyer is especially dependable during litigation procedures. No matter how big the case filed against you, your attorney is the rock on which you can depend.

Your Guide To Legal Forms

When planning to take any legal action you should consider having the right US legal forms. In case you don’t have the proper one, you’ll not be able to do whatsoever within the system. For instance, I have a client who is a landlord. Once, before consulting me, he tried to expel a tenant. Of course he had all the right reasons to do that. This particular tenant hadn’t paid his rent for months, he had kept his property in poor cleanliness and that caused my client to ask him to leave.

Although he told the tenant he was being evicted, he didn’t supply the correct legal form and that’s how my client ended up postponing eviction for a month. Of course, in a normal eviction situation most people would leave when they know they are not wanted, but this tenant made my client get all the correct eviction notice forms and stayed at his place as long as he could. That’s why if you have all the right legal forms you would never be in a situation like that.

You might have already guessed what I do for a living – I am in the business of supplying a great variety of legal forms for many clients. I make legal forms on any subject available for anyone who needs them and is ready to pay a small amount of money for my services. I am not a lawyer but this is not a matter of significance. For clients knowing the exact forms they need, this is an easy and cheap solution of getting them. Clients who are not sure what kind of legal forms they might need, for example, to sell a property or rent a house, they could contact us by e-mail, we’ll soon provide them with all the right legal forms they need without taking additional fee for that.

There is no doubt that many people get legal forms thinking they could avoid hiring a lawyer if they do the paperwork by themselves. There are some situations when you can actually do that and save some money. However, in most of the cases, for example, when you have a contract or you are involved in a legal skirmish, then you should consider having at least a consultation with a lawyer. If you keep that advice, then you will be sure that everything is in order. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that even the right legal forms do not ensure protection against lawsuit. Apart from that, you can always use an investment that you might have kept in a different situation even when having all the proper legal forms.