The internet has completely changed the way in we are able to carry out daily tasks such as banking, shopping, watching TV, listening to music, etc., because it is now possible to do all of these tasks from the comfort of our homes: there’s an app for pretty much anything you can think of. Likewise, even those pondering a divorce in today’s world may be tempted to explore for an online divorce app and/or may choose to settle for an online divorce website as opposed to visiting a bricks and mortar solicitor. While most would agree that the internet has definitely allowed for a quick and convenient way for handling certain tasks, we should be wary about becoming too heavily reliant on the internet as our solution for all matters. In particular, where divorce is concerned, we should acknowledge the limitations associated with obtaining an online divorce. So for all those considering a do-it-yourself divorce, listen up.
Limitation – Financial Claims
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce is determining any financial claims that each spouse has. Filing for a divorce does not automatically translate into an end to all financial commitments you may have concerning your ex-spouse and children, an online website may not take the time to explain this aspect properly to you, but a solicitor will. Moreover, a solicitor can work with you to obtain a better understanding of your family’s financial situation and try to minimise your financial liability and draft an appropriate order that is valid and enforceable.
Limitation – Lack of Expertise
The key issue with online divorces is that you aren’t guaranteed to be dealing with qualified solicitors behind the scenes. A lot of the time, the individuals working on your online divorce are advisors who are given limited trained for the specific role, used to assisting with very basic questions or concerns. You are often dealing with multiple advisors who only log on and assist you with a specific query for that day. The next time you log on, another advisor is there to help. Having one dedicated solicitor as your primary contact you lets them get to know you, your family and your unique situation and they will be in a better position to provide you with well-rounded advice.
Limitation – Unregulated Industry
For the most part, the online divorce industry is unregulated which leaves the big unanswered question: what happens when something goes wrong? Solicitors are regulated and are required to take out professional indemnity insurance which means that if the worst should happen and a client is given bad advice, there will not be left out of pocket in the long term. Online websites offering divorce can be up online one day and down for maintenance forever, which leaves you with limited to no recourse, should something go wrong.
Pitfall – Hidden Costs
While online divorce websites can offer a low cost option for filing for divorce, such sites are misleading because they fail to point out what exactly is included in this low price. Is it access to the forms only? If so, how do you know what forms apply to your particular situation? Once you figure out which forms you do need to fill out, where and how do you file them? You will quickly uncover that court filing fees aren’t often included in the low cost, among other costs such as mediation, financial orders, etc. Of course solicitors have different fees for different services, but because they are in a regulated industry, there are strict rules requiring them to give full and transparent costs estimates.
As such, don’t let your rush to end your marriage cloud your thinking and spoil your long term plans, especially in terms of finances. While the primary motivation to opt for an online divorce is that it is a cheap and quick alternative, it’s important to consider the limitations noted above because you will quickly come to the realisation that there’s no substitute for hiring a qualified solicitor.
If you have any questions regarding your divorce, please feel free to contact the specialists at Grayfords.