Everyone these days is looking for ways to keep costs down, and divorcing couples are no exception. We see all over the place services offering a divorce for $399, or online ads offering similar low prices for divorces. These services are generally documents preparers. Document preparers generally have some experience in filling out the forms necessary for a divorce, but they are not lawyers, do not and have not gone to court, and so they do not know the ramifications for improperly filling out your forms. They could be depriving you of a benefit that you need, but that you don’t even know about! Too many times I have had clients come into my office, needing me to clean up a mess a document preparer created, costing them much more money than if they had come to me in the first place. Use a document preparer at your own risk. Better yet, don’t use one at all. Spend a few dollars more at the outset to make sure you get the professional, knowledgeable help you need.
In addition, you must be very careful to complete your forms properly. In divorce law, there are a great number of forms and disclosures you need to do, such as income, expenses, assets and debts. You sign these forms under penalty of perjury, so they need to be accurate and complete. But in addition to these forms, there are other forms that need to be filled out to allow you to let the court and other side know what you want, actually get what you want when it becomes time, have your documents accepted by the court, and have your case completed properly. While most are straightforward, some have tricky elements that may require a professional to ensure all of your rights are protected. Do it right the first time to save yourself immense hassle later.