Since everything you could imagine seemingly “has an app,” it only makes sense that divorce does too!
DIY DIVORCE APP
The internet has changed the way we do relationships, so it only makes sense that it would now offer “DIY” solutions to divorce. But are these online apps and programs actually helping people divorce? Or do they just delay the process? Below we will review the online divorce process apps as well as if they really actually work.
DIVORCE APP OPTIONS
Here are a few online divorce app options: Wevorce – offers couples a step-by-step guide. Mediators are available by videoconferencing for a charge of $749. Separate.us – allows couples to complete, file, and serve divorce papers online for between $1,000 and $3,000. Avvo – offers users an uncontested divorce package that includes a 30-minute consultation phone call for $995.
For couples that are filing for an uncontested divorce, these options might be an easy way to get all the paperwork done. But for couples that need to come to an agreement on aspects of their marriage, these might not be the best, and might even delay the process. According to Avvo’s general counsel and consumer advocate, Josh King, “These products are designed to cover a wide range of people that have a fairly routine legal problem. The critical thing is that you don’t have a lot of disagreements or complicated externalities.”
“If they have no assets and no children, you can do one of those divorces, no harm, no foul,” said John Slowiaczek, president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But a “simple” divorce is not always the option for couples that need to decide things such as alimony, child support, real estate, retirement accounts, investments, and taxes. “It’s never that simple,” Slowiaczek said. “Couples argue over the Christmas decorations; it’s always about getting in the last dig and that’s why the Pro Se divorces or divorce apps don’t make sense.”
In fact, these forms of divorce can even prolong or extend the period of time it takes for a divorce. Couples that start this process go through the process and then realize that they might not be in agreement about everything. That only means that they have to re-start the whole process all over again with correct legal aid from a lawyer.
So before you decide to go through an app for your divorce, make sure you understand the entire divorce process. Below we describe the typical steps of a divorce.
THE STEPS OF THE DIVORCE PROCESS
The steps required for a divorce will be completely dependent on the relationship. A marriage that was short, did not involve children, where the spouse did not acquire property or debt together will obviously require less sorting out than a marriage that lasted 26 years, where the spouses bought a house and had three children. When there is less “accomplished” during the marriage, there is less to sort out during the divorce process. In shorter marriages, a couple is even able to obtain an expedited divorce. You’ll want to consult with a family law attorney on the specifics of your case. There are various forms of divorce available, including the following: Summary Divorce: This is an expedited divorce procedure for couples who meet the following requirements: haven’t been married for very long (usually five years or less), don’t own much property, don’t have children, and don’t have significant joint debts. Both spouses must agree to the divorce and file court papers jointly. There is no need to go to trial with this form of divorce. Uncontested Divorce: This is when both spouses agree to the terms of a divorce and file the court papers cooperatively. There is no need to go to trial with this form of divorce. Default Divorce: This is when you file for divorce and your spouse doesn’t respond. A court is able to grant you a divorce even if your spouse did not participate. This is often what happens when spouses cannot be found. There are a number of rules regarding this form of divorce, so you will need to consult a family law attorney or your local divorce court system to obtain this form of divorce. Fault and No-Fault Divorce. California is a “no-fault” state, and what this means is that rather than placing blame on a spouse, all you need to declare is that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences” or have suffered an “irremediable breakdown” of your relationship. In fault states, you are able to assign fault to a spouse – such as adultery. There are a number of rules regarding assigning “fault,” so you will need to consult a family law attorney or your local divorce court system. Mediated Divorce. This is a very common process, during which a mediator serves as a neutral third party to help you and your spouse resolve the aspects of your divorce. A mediator does not make decisions, but rather helps the both of you come to an agreement on everything. Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is a kind of hybrid between a standard divorce and a mediated divorce. You and your spouse both hire separate lawyers that are trained to work with each other to settle your case. This can also involved a larger team of a financial or tax or property adviser. Each spouse discloses all necessary information for fair negotiations, and then meets with each other and both lawyers to discuss settlement. In this form of divorce, if you are not able to settle and thus have to go to court, the original attorneys you have worked with with withdraw from the case and you’ll need to hire different attorneys to take your case to trial. Arbitration. In arbitration, you and your spouse hire a private judge, called an arbitrator. The arbitrator makes the same judgments a judge would make. Both spouses must honor the arbitrator’s decisions as if a judge had made them. Contested Divorce. This is when spouses are unable to decide on property or child custody, or any other aspect of a marriage. The decision will have to be made by a judge in court. You will need to go through settlement negotiation and hearings. If spouses are unable to resolve the case after that, a court trial is held to determine the aspects of the divorce.
STARTING THE DIVORCE PROCESS
1. FILE PETITION
The first step in the divorce process is filing a petition. This must be done even if both spouses are okay with divorcing. One spouse must file a petition with the court to ask for a divorce. This petition states the grounds for divorce. In California, this is typically “irreconcilable differences.”
2. TEMPORARY ORDERS
If a spouse is dependent on the other for financial support or will have custody of the children, that spouse will need to ask the court for temporary orders for support and custody. A temporary order for these things is usually granted within a few days and remains in effect until a full court hearing. If the spouse seeking the temporary order is the same spouse that is filing the petition, they should file the temporary order at the same time. If the spouse seeking the temporary order did not file the petition, they need to file their request for the temporary order as soon as possible.
3. SERVICE OF PROCESS
The spouse that files the divorce petition will also need to proof of service of process. This is a document that proves a copy of the divorce petition was given and received by the other spouse. You can either work with a process server, or in most cases when you work with a divorce attorney, they handle this part of the process.
The spouse receiving the service of process needs to file a response to the petition. The responding spouse may want to dispute the alleged grounds for divorce. If there is disagreement regarding property division, support, custody, or any other issue, this should be set out in the response.
Spouses will need to negotiate their differences if there are any. This is when mediation or collaborative divorce processes work. If spouses still do not agree, they may need to go to trial.
If spouses cannot come to an agreement on any aspect of a divorce, they will need to go to trial where a divorce court judge will rule on the divorce agreement.
7. CREATION OF THE ORDER OF DISSOLUTION
The order of dissolution is a decree that officially ends the marriage and spells out how all aspects of a marriage, including: the property and debts, custody, support and any other issues are to be divided. Two spouses that are able to negotiate on their own are able to draft an order of dissolution and submit it to the court. If this complies with the set legal requirements and both parties entered into it knowingly and willingly, then a judge approves it.
WORKING WITH A DIVORCE ATTORNEY
If you are facing a divorce, you should work with a divorce attorney that can take a look at your specific situation and give you advice based on it, rather than approach it with a one size fits all mindset. Your specific situation will be particular to you and your marriage and the way your life was set up during the marriage. This might mean major financial decisions regarding retirement funds, property, child support and custody, and alimony. A divorce attorney will work with you to help you decide how you want to tackle these elements of your marriage and divorce, while also providing guidance and support. They will be able to lead you through the process while keeping you from procrastination and caving into pressure. They’ll also be able to help ensure you meet all the required timelines while ensuring that you get a fair case and trial should you need to go to court. Lastly, they’ll be able to help you find the freedom and new life you are seeking – one that is entirely on your terms.
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