Google is commonly considered the first place to start when doing research, whether you think you have a rare disease or are considering filing for divorce. We all do it and few of us have a problem accepting the advice provided by anonymous people on a message board or even an attorney answering a question on Avvo or some other site allowing you to ask a question to an attorney.
However there is one limitation that is not going to be obvious when you start searching for legal help online. Consumers rarely know what is important or not important to mention when posting for help online. You might have the best intention and post a question on Avvo but the answers given to you are limited by the information provided. Thus, without the ability to talk to someone in real-time who can ask follow-up questions, the information you receive will likely be very incomplete.
This point was eloquently made in another article explaining the limitations of finding Bankruptcy information online where they said,
So often, things that the layman overlooks are the issues that drive the legal result. That is why the give and take of an interview with a lawyer is essential to pin down the applicable law.
This is why spending the time to sit down with an attorney is so important. You may think that filling out those divorce forms is so easy. After all, you just have to check a few boxes and file forms with the court. But what the average person doesn’t realize is that decisions made when filing the initial paperwork are going to have a huge impact on the resolution of the case. For example, if you want to ask for Spousal Support, that request has to be made in the initial petition. Similarly, if someone wants to change their name in the divorce, because they took their spouse’s last name, that also needs to be requested. You also might need to understand the technical requirements before filing your agreement with the Court.
I have no problem assisting clients who come in my door with partially filled-out paperwork. But each time they do, I remind them of how important it is to have a professional look over that paperwork to make sure nothing is missing. If you set a date of separation on your paperwork you might know exactly what caused you to select that date. But is it going to be a date that would be affirmed in court if it was challenged later in the case? To answer that question you have to understand what Courts consider as evidence of the date of separation.
Before you start to file for divorce all on your own consider that even attorneys who are perfectly capable of practicing law in other areas might not understand the full meaning of each term used on the divorce paperwork. Attorneys typically recognize that they need the help of someone who is familiar with the area of the law. All you have to do is schedule a consultation so that you can see for yourself the different things you weren’t considering. And if you really do just want a little help along the way, you can rest easy knowing that someone else has reviewed your paperwork. The amount you pay for guidance will save you many headaches in the future.