Many couples getting divorced are attracted to the low-cost option of document preparation services. With claims of having divorce paperwork done in one hour for cheap rates, it is enticing to keep clicking away on the Internet to file for a divorce.
Yet these services, which are almost always operated by individuals who are not licensed to practice law, are scams or apply a one-size-fits-all approach that is not appropriate. There is no watchdog organization to monitor their practices and many of the services have outdated, overly simplistic forms. Without an attorney’s advice, couples who use these services inevitably fail to address critical issues. Months or even years after the divorce, the same individuals must hire an attorney to fix a substandard separation agreements and parenting plans, for example.
Statistics show that the costs of fixing threadbare divorce decrees and parenting agreements are many times the cost of the document preparation service.
Even spouses in uncontested divorce need legal counsel. Filing clerks are not allowed to tell individuals how they should fill out the paperwork, or what errors their paperwork contains. The standard state forms also do not provide any information about each party’s legal rights or options. Only a lawyer can provide that kind of detailed information.
The Thode Law Firm, P.C., which has represented hundreds of clients in the Denver metropolitan area since 1997, has seen its share of bad divorces due to divorce prep services and kits. “In many cases, battles over child support, custody and visitation, maintenance, and other issues continue long after the divorce decree is issued,” said attorney William Thode. “The vast majority of these problems are the result of not thinking things through or agreements that don’t exactly say what the parties think they say.”