Almost any task can be accomplished online, from buying groceries to filing income taxes. However, when it comes to divorce, it may be better to hire an attorney than to attempt the process online. Ending a marriage is often complicated, especially in a high-asset divorce. Many people who think they have a complete understanding of their finances are surprised when they discover additional liabilities such as mortgage payments that the other spouse hasn’t been taking care of. An online service may not prompt a person to learn what the outstanding balance is.
In addition to unknown liabilities, assets are sometimes purposely hidden by a soon-to-be ex-spouse. Online filings may give the spouse additional time to move assets around, unlike traditional filings where assets can be frozen by the court upon the petition of the filer. Tracking down hidden or sequestered items can be very costly in terms of time, money and confusion.
One of the main disadvantages of an online divorce is its “one size fits all” nature. Computers cannot account for complex variables that may affect the health and well being of children when determining a custody issue. There is no way to evaluate the emotional effects of medical complications or drastic changes in lifestyle. Computers do not have the ability to learn what is important to a spouse and fight for those concerns in court.
Although the online process may be convenient, it is almost impossible to become familiar with all of the legal requirements in such a short period of time. While a person may be able to learn the basics, the insight and knowledge of an attorney with experience in family law and divorce cannot be duplicated by a person using an online service.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Business, So Why Do It Online?“, Brendan Lyle, April 08, 2014