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What DIY divorce websites cannot offer

A couple of years back, we discussed a then-new cellphone app that claimed to help divorced and separated parents keep track of their child support obligations. As more and more personal business, such as filing taxes, gets conducted entirely online, it is perhaps no surprise that many companies are offering “quick and cheap” online divorce services.

An article by CNBC mentions a few of these “do-it-yourself” Internet divorce businesses. Some provide brief online versions of mediation, while others have the spouses fill out their divorce papers, file them and serve them to each other on their own.

At first glance, companies advertising things like “get divorced for $749” would be intriguing to anyone. Who doesn’t want to save money, especially when traditional divorce can be potentially so expensive? But remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for”? That certainly applies here.

As the president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer points out, online DIY divorce generally only works for couples with no substantial assets, such as a home, cars or bank accounts, and no children. Those couples exist, but most couples need to work out division of their marital assets and debts. And parents need to agree on a child custody schedule and child support arrangement, if possible.

As the president-elect told CNBC, it is common for divorcing couples to fight over who gets the holiday decorations, so trying for a quickie online divorce without either side using the assistance of a divorce lawyer is unrealistic most of the time. Also, each state has its own divorce laws. Can you know for sure that the one-size-fits-all service offered by an out-of-state company complies with your local law?

Most of the time, the smart move is to hire an attorney. An experienced divorce lawyer will guide you through the process so that it goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.