The Problem With Online Divorce Document Preparation

There is no question that hiring divorce attorneys can be costly. However, there is also no question that the Settlement Agreement will be more thorough, the various possible problems will be addressed, the parenting schedule will be more carefully drafted and the asset/debt division will have more safeguards.

Throughout my long career as a matrimonial attorney I have had consultations with people that have used online services and who after payment and signature were left with a bare bones agreement that they thought resolved the issues in their divorce.

There are many, many different ways to draft parenting schedules, many different ways to draft decision making provisions, many different ways to address possible relocation and many different ways of dividing holidays, school recesses and summer vacation time. Online agreements may propose a few basic options but there is no attorney available to address your particular concerns or to fashion a variation of what some might consider to be the "standard" clause.

Occupancy andsale of the house is very complicated. Some people will list the house for sale immediately but not properly deal with the need to reduce the price if not promptly sold, or the need to determine what constitutes an acceptable offer, or whether money should be spent on fixing the house up before listing, or if permits are missing who pays or advances those expenses and then finally how will the realtor be picked for the listing and how will the lawyer be picked for the closing. Another issue may involve whether one or both persons will remain in the house. What if neither party stays in the house? What if one person doesn't pay their share of the carrying charges and repairs?

Cars can be a problem when there is a loan in only one person's name and the other person is keeping the car with loan. Payment of credit card and other debt needs to be properly addressed. How do you address non-payment by the responsible person?

Child support calculations need to be properly done but what about extracurricular activities? Will both parties contribute and in what percentage? Who decides which and how many such activities?

401k accounts and pensions are perhaps sometimes the most complicated issue as special court orders are required for the distribution of the account. If the accounts are not being divided and instead are being offset against other assets then tax treatment may be necessary so taxable vs non-taxable assets are adjusted to make the distribution fair. $100,000 in a taxable 401k account is not the same as $100,000 in house equity.

By hiring an experienced matrimonial attorney the Settlement Agreement can be custom drafted to your needs. Alternative proposals can be discussed to help you achieve your goals and advise you on what is important and not important.

As I tell clients I can watch many You Tube videos but that does not mean you would want me to repair your plumbing or fix your car. Experience, knowledge, the right "tools" and good listening skills are all vital to having a resolution that will last and not immediately create problems because important parts were left out or not considered.

As with many things in life you get what you pay for. An online agreement that appears inexpensive in many situations will not be adequate protection. Just as health insurance and car insurance coverage can be different while still being "insurance", divorce agreements can be very different.