Divorce Forms – Are They Worth the Cost?

Be Careful What You Ask For – Tips about Divorce Forms

Legal forms are available for a variety of legal needs and I bet you can find divorce forms almost anywhere.  I hear about new online form sources frequently when people come into my office and ask what I know about xyz website and abc website and I was even told recently that an office supply store carries paper versions of forms, as well.   I’ve never looked at a forms website but, I have to ask the question what is the ‘cost’ to the people using these divorce forms and form language without legal advice about what is included in the form?

The last two times that I have been in court there have been three different people presenting their files to the Judge, without a lawyer, using a form divorce decree.  One person’s form was not enough to get the job done and the Judge sent her away because it couldn’t be finished.  Another one was either incomplete or wrong (or both) and required the Judge to work on it for about 20 minutes, before it could be completed.  The last one the Judge signed – after asking a few questions about certain things in the decree – with the closing words, “Be careful what you ask for…”.  I think she is right.   Just because there is language in a form, doesn’t mean it is right or right for YOU.

If you face making a decision about a ‘form divorce’, think about these 3 tips:

1)      If you are creating forms for your divorce, you can take them to an attorney for the attorney to review.  Take your forms so that the attorney can tell you what you have created and you can pay the attorney for the time spent without hiring the attorney to represent you.  See if all of the documents say what you thought they said when you created them and how you will be affected by them.

2)     If you have received forms that your spouse created for you to sign (this applies anytime you get documents from your spouse about a divorce and not just forms) – same thing: find an attorney for yourself, have the documents reviewed by the lawyer to find out if the documents say what you think they say and if your agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse is really what is in the document.

3)     Reach an agreement with your spouse and then hire your lawyer to prepare the documents you need based on the agreement you already have and finish up the divorce that way – instead of using forms altogether.  Lots of lawyers have different price structures like fixed fee agreements for agreed divorces, including this office.  This option will likely save you time and money in the long run.

These 3 tips may help you navigate the situation if you are given the option of using forms in your divorce or if you are looking for a cost-effective way to divorce.  I am happy to discuss these options and many others with you at our office, 940-497-5454.

Jill O’Connell