What is the difference between online divorce papers and a lawyer doing them for me?

December 9, 2020

So, there are some things I bet you do not do yourself. Things like raise your own meat, cut your own hair, or change the oil in your car. They might be things you know how to do, or can do, if you have time. With respect to cutting your own hair, you might not have the skills or tools to do it, and worry you will look bad after you do – but you might have tried during quarantine – and maybe you regret it.


Some things you have professionals do for you, like repace the roof on your home after a hail storm. That is because your home might be one of your biggest investments, and if you mess that up, your house will leak and get mold. Or, you might take your car to a mechanic to have them do your brakes and alignment, because if you mess that up, your car will not stop.


So, why would you cheap-out by doing your own divorce papers? A divorce divides all of the things you own, and some things you might have in the future, like your retirement. If you have kids, it decides where your children will spend Christmas until they are 18. It might define where you live. It might have a far-flung impact on your credit. Simply put, a divorce has the same types of consequences as does a roof replacement or a car repair, and they are not necessarily the consequences you have ever encountered in your past.


The online divorce papers you can get for free or buy do not tell you how to divide bank accounts. The do not tell you if you put a value on the cars and transfer that value ot one person or the other, there might be a tax issue. No one answers your questions, or helps you craft something that reflects your reality, or helps you get the papers into the court. None of these groups helps you file your papers, or tells you that there is a filing fee, or tells you that you will have to appear before the judge, often more than once. They simply do not, no more than there are explicit step-by-step instructions on hair clippers, a bottle of motor oil, or a pack of roofing shingles.


I know lawyers have a reputation of being mean, scary, rude, and REALLY expensive. That is not so in every case but it is if you want to fight about things – then you are telling your lawyer to use his or her advocacy side, which is the mean, scary part that gets super costly. A divorce, if you and your soon-to-be-ex can agree, does not have to be expensive. It does not have to involve mean lawyers trading jabs in court before the judge as $300 per hour each. It does not have to be a scary process where you have to spend thousands. Instead, it can be a civil process, where a lawyer with nearly two decades of experience, can help you by drafting your divorce papers in a way that closes the many of the loopholes, prevents you from spending days in court, and most importantly, saves money.


That is exactly what I do professionally. I draft divorce papers for couples who can stop fighting and work collaboratively to reach a good solution. I think about future financial issues. I tell you how to save money, where to transfer titles, and how to transfer bank accounts. I discuss ideas for dividing time with your kids. I start child support payments. In other words, I take your ideas, give them a legal polish, and do all of the things that you would have to figure out on your own. And I tell jokes as well. So, the difference between do-it-yourself and a lawyer might be money in the short term, but its also knowing the lawyer did a divorce professionally, and helped you better in the long term. and might save you thousands later.