Do DIY Divorce Apps Work?
It’s no secret that our smartphones have become a shortcut for many of our day-to-day activities. “Hey, Siri, call Austin,” is a lot easier to say than picking up the old rotary phone and dialing a ten-digit number. And, instead of tethered to the wall in my kitchen for the half hour we spend chatting, I can get in my car and drive to my next class while I’m on the phone.
Most of the time, these devices and their tools make our lives easier, allowing us to brush off the hardship of figuring out how much to tip our waiter because, well, we can just use our calculator app.
But can these devices allow us to deal with some of life’s most stressful decisions? A quick search on Google, “DIY online divorce,” uncovers results pressuring one to buy into a do-it-yourself divorce for just this much and in this much time.
Do these do-it-yourself divorce applications actually work?
Do-It-Yourself…If It Fits
In an article published by the American Bar Association, Danielle Braff uncovers the complexities that surround the divorce process specifically when using do-it-yourself divorce apps. DIY apps seem to be easier, to cost less, and to sidestep the stress of dealing with attorneys. However, Braff explains, “these services should only be used for an uncontested divorce,” one in which the spouses agree on all the issues. These do-it-yourself divorce apps are a “one-size-fits-all model,” Braff adds. The applications are “self-directed” and can lead to “additional fees if you need guidance from a paralegal” or an attorney.
But it is rare that spouses agree on all the issues involved in their divorce, especially when they have children.
Legal Eyes Are Worth It
In many divorce situations, spouses feel that they can utilize a do-it-yourself device, in part because they are unaware of the potential for issues to crop up later in the divorce process. Ideally, divorce should be a do-it-yourself process, but, because it is a legal process, it is almost always ideal to have an attorney review your documents before you file them with a court. There may be something glaringly wrong about which you, your spouse, or even the do-it-yourself divorce device is unaware.
Not that you must hire an attorney for every aspect of your divorce. There are many divorce processes that can help you cut the costs. The bottom line is, however, that having an attorney review your divorce documents can save you from post-judgment issues that will no doubt be harder, more expensive, and more time-consuming to resolve after the fact.
Each Divorce Is Unique
Just like your family, your divorce is unique. Unlike what happens in court, the various courtless divorce processes you can use to restructure your family can be tailored to you and your family. Perhaps you and your spouse can reach agreement together (the Kitchen Table Divorce), but your circumstances are too complex to use a do-it-yourself app. You may not know how to transfer real property or the dollars in your 401k, or you might not know how to properly describe your timesharing agreement. It may be best, in this situation, for one spouse to hire an attorney to review your agreement and correct it to accurately reflect what you and your spouse intended.
A different scenario may apply to you if your spouse is unwilling to negotiate, or you feel that your spouse is being untruthful about his/her financial situation. In this case, having an attorney to represent your interests and negotiate on your behalf may decrease the stress you are facing. Just as you would obtain multiple quotes for a kitchen remodel, the same thinking applies here. Having eyes outside of your relationship review your divorce process allows you to gain multiple options about which you would otherwise have been unaware.
Is Your Divorce A “One-Size-Fits-All”?
The bottom line: do-it-yourself divorce apps may be beneficial for some, certainly if your divorce is uncontested. However, few divorces are uncontested, and almost all come with their own sets of emotional stresses and lurking variables. A “one-size-fits-all model” may not be the best option for you. Look into our past blogs regarding various divorce options to find what process would best benefit you and your family.