Should I Use a DIY Divorce App?
As divorce attorneys who practice here in Florida, we receive a number of questions about using online platforms (i.e. do-it-yourself “DIY” divorce apps) for divorce, with flat fees charging a certain amount per month to prepare and file all of the necessary forms/documents with the court. It is no surprise that these automated DIY services have popped up in recent years; all advertising to simplify the divorce process by using technology to produce automatic document production and provide resources for child custody issues.
As technology progresses, more and more companies are providing people with these DIY options when it comes to divorce. One of those, for example, is known as “Hello Divorce,” which offers instructional videos, templates, and assistance. It also allows users to pay to schedule time for legal coaching, with fees averaging a total of about $1,500. According to the company, while they have only had about 1,000 users to date, they are actively reaching out to more and more customers every month.
How They Are Set Up
However, these automated divorce options are really only updated versions of an attorney referral service. People typically pay to access an operator to get the names of attorneys and then the app companies match them with the attorneys who have paid to be a part of the services. As a result, consumers are not actually getting the most qualified attorney, or even an attorney that focuses on family law; they are simply getting an individual who is signed up to be part of the service.
Where Things Can Get Complicated
This can get somewhat dangerous when divorces are contested, especially because an actual attorney first needs to identify what method is going to make the most sense for your divorce; whether that’s collaboration, litigation, mediation, or negotiation. Because a number of these apps are self-directed and you incur additional fees if you end up needing guidance from a paralegal or an attorney, a number of users end up with wasted fees because they pay for the application, become frustrated with it, and then end up having to hire a divorce attorney anyway.
Unless your divorce is actually uncontested, you have already set up a parenting plan and child custody arrangements, divided your property, and dealt with any and all other issues you might have, chances are that you are going to be disappointed with this one-size-fits-all model that these services offer. In addition, things could end up being dangerously oversimplified at the end of it, whereby distribution of retirement assets, debt, child support, and more is never addressed or negotiated as it should be.
Further, once the divorce is finalized with the Court, it can be nearly impossible to change the agreements like the Parenting Plan, which puts forth more than just time-sharing with the minor children, but who pays for extra curricular activities, before and after school programs and summer camps. When parents realize later that this was not included in their Parenting Plan, they need to hire an attorney to “fix it”, which will cost more than doing it correctly the first time. Further, if you don’t realize that the marital settlement agreement didn’t include some issues like how to split half of a 401K or even that you were entitled to it, it could be too late to fix it later if too much time passes. At the end of the day, it is frequently more cost-effective to simply hire an actual attorney.
Contact Our Florida Divorce Attorneys to Find Out More
If you live in Florida and are going through a divorce, contact our Orlando divorce attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law today for a free consultation to find out more about our services and what we can accomplish for you.