Online Divorce in Massachusetts: Should I Do It?
Nowadays, you can do almost anything online: shop, book vacations, and even order groceries. In many cases, these virtual transactions are a faster, more convenient, and frequently cheaper alternative to doing everything in person. Does this also apply to divorce?
Divorce services offered online by “do-it-yourself” providers have become increasingly popular in recent years. Online divorce services advertise a quick, easy, and cheap divorce process that eliminates the need to go to court. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. By understanding the drawbacks of online divorce, you can avoid purchasing a service that may ultimately do more harm than good.
Consider these realities before opting for online divorce in Massachusetts.
Filing for Divorce in MA Can Be Complicated
Divorce can be as complicated as it is personal. When you fill out and file divorce papers online without an attorney’s help, you can be vulnerable. Among other things, you’ll have to figure out how to divide property and assets, create a child custody arrangement, and determine child support and/or spousal support needs.
While you can get the legal paperwork for these arrangements online, as well as some helpful tips on how to proceed, you won’t benefit from the legal insights and expertise that an MA divorce attorney can provide. You’ll have to handle these complicated issues on your own, and without legal training, it can be difficult.
It is also important to remember that divorce laws and requirements can not only differ from state to state, but also from county to county. With an online divorce service, you can get the paperwork to cover most primary or general laws, but you will likely miss something crucial without a local attorney to guide you. You could forget to file a key piece of paperwork, miss a deadline, or otherwise not meet all the local requirements for divorce in your area.
Online Divorce Providers Are Hard to Verify
As with any popular phenomenon, an online divorce in Massachusetts is not exempt from scammers. Many online divorce scams charge up-front fees and then don’t deliver anything to clients, leaving you out of pocket. In addition, a divorce proceeding requires a lot of personal information, including your name, address, financial information, and other details. Fraud or identity theft could occur if the site is not as trustworthy as it appears.
If you locate a legitimate online divorce provider, verifying the credentials of the individuals involved can be difficult. There are many online divorce providers that don’t even have attorneys on staff. They rely instead on paralegals, and some have no trained legal staff at all.
If you don’t have legal experience, it can be difficult to understand divorce paperwork and concepts such as child custody or alimony. If you don’t have an attorney to assist you with divorce paperwork and processes, you might make long-term mistakes you’ll regret.
Online Divorce Is Legally Binding
This relates to our first point about divorce being complicated. Making these family law decisions without the advice of an attorney could end up costing you dearly. After you sign the paperwork and your divorce is finalized, you won’t be able to change anything if you regret it later.
While some portions of a divorce maydivorce orders can be modifiableed, you may only do so if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as job loss or a change in the amount of time your children spend with each parent. Preventing future problems begins with making the right choice the first time around.
The Risks Outweigh the Lower Cost
Online divorce services are popular because they are less expensive and can be accomplished faster. While it’s normal to want an easier way to divorce, the risks do not always outweigh the benefits.
- Even though you think you’ll save money by not hiring a lawyer, you could end up in front of a judge who rejects the divorce filing for insufficianciesin court nonetheless if you run into issues.
- If you don’t have a lawyer to assist you, you’ll have to spend a lot of time reading up on and navigating complicated legal matters.
Online services should probably be avoided unless your divorce is extremely straightforward with few marital assets, no spousal support, and no children. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the forms will be acceptable to the court that handles the divorce.
You Could Still End Up in Court
A common issue for people who file for divorce online is that they still need to appear in court to file their documents and follow the court process, including setting and attending court hearings. There is a good chance that your divorce case will get dismissed if you file incorrect documents or do not follow the correct court process, resulting in a lot of wasted time and money.
Other reasons why you may end up before a judge include:
- Having a complicated marital estate
- Not meeting the divorce requirements in your area
In the event that you and your spouse cannot agree on key issues related to property, support, and custody, you may have to file for a contested divorcewithdraw from an online divorce and hire an attorney anyway. At this point, your divorce is contested, and a judge will have to decide on the issues that remain in dispute.
Speak to a Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer Today
At Infinity Law Group, we understand that divorce can be both emotionally and financially challenging. Online divorce in Massachusetts may seem like a simpler and less expensive option when you’re already facing the prospect of living on a single income with no one to help you pay the bills, but it can end up costing you a lot more.
Infinity Law Group has been assisting clients in Boston, Needham, and Quincy with their family law needs for more than a decade. Attorneys Gabriel Cheong and Jaye Samuels have extensive experience helping clients like you get the divorce outcome they need to start over and create a more positive future. Instead of taking your chances on an online service, let us help. To schedule a no-obligation consultation, please contact us.