The Internet has transformed scores of tedious activities – from paying bills and renewing library books to shopping and even ordering a pizza – into minor chores manageable with a few clicks of the mouse, and divorce may seem to be no exception. Online divorce has been touted as a convenient do-it-yourself way of skirting legal costs and simplifying what is traditionally an involved and form-filled process, but it may not be the ideal or even most practical choice for most divorcing couples. In fact, streamlining the process of divorce doesn’t do away with its inherent complexities, and unresolved issues pertaining to everything from taxes to property division could come back to haunt the ill-prepared later down the road and end up costing more time, energy and money than undergoing traditional proceedings in the first place.
A few prerequisites are required for filing an online divorce successfully – that is, without unforeseen complications cropping up during or after the process. In addition to meeting the standard residency requirements that state divorce statuses impose, regardless of how a couple chooses to go about the divorce, those who choose the online approach must be confident that both parties involved are in full agreement about commonly contentious issues like asset and property division, alimony, and child custody and support. Further, any assets or liabilities involved must be simple and easy to quantify; if they are not, trouble could arise during the next tax season, and tension could arise between the divorced spouses as one or both face financial consequences to sort out. In addition, filing for divorce online requires extensive research beforehand into state divorce laws as well as federal tax laws. The service itself should be researched, including its standing with the Better Business Bureau and feedback left by individuals who have used it, and the fees, including filing fees if applicable, can vary considerably between online services as well.
In short, the most successful online divorces rely on extensive knowledge, which can be obtained individually or with the help of financial advisers, as well as complete cooperation between the divorcing spouses, which may be risky to rely upon at a time when emotions are running high. If both parties are not completely satisfied with a settlement or if one spouse later learns that the other was deceitful in regard to disclosing assets or debts, the cost of fixing the situation could exceed that of having an attorney handle the initial filing. An attorney can approach a divorce situation armed with experience and nuanced insight about everything from child custody laws in a couple’s jurisdiction to the tax implications of letting one spouse keep the marital home where an online divorce service relies on the person doing the filing to have this knowledge. In addition, letting an attorney handle the finer technical points of the divorce minimizes the potential sources of stress during what is inherently a demanding process.