For years, technology has proven you can start a relationship with a “swipe.” And now, thanks to an app called “Wevorce”, you can also end your marriage with a simple “swipe.” But should you?
Swipe for Divorce
Wevorce and Separate.us
The service, Wevorce offers a “DIY” divorce complete with mediators that are available through videoconferencing. The service starts at $749. Another service, Separate.us, allows user to create, complete, file, and even serve divorce papers online. The service costs somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000. Avvo, which is already an established online legal marketplace, just recently launched their own uncontested divorce package that allows users to consult legal counsel during a 30-minute phone call for $995.
“For better or for worse, technology has made it easier for people to split,” says Josh King, Avvo’s general counsel. At the same time, King acknowledged that these online divorce services are not for everyone.
“The critical thing is that you don’t have a lot of disagreements or complicated externalities,” King said. “These products are designed to cover a wide range of people that have a fairly routine legal problem.”
But Should You Use an App?
While these apps and online resources might be great for couples looking to file an uncontested divorce where both sides are in agreement when it comes to dividing assets, child custody, and other aspects of a marriage, they are not for couples that are unable to come to an agreement.
“If they have no assets and no children, you can do one of those divorces, no harm, no foul,” says John Slowiaczek, president-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. But it’s very rare that couples will be in agreement when it comes to aspects of a marriage including alimony, child support, retirement accounts, real estate, and other financial issues.
“It’s never that simple,” Slowiaczek says. “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.”
Complicating online divorce, even more, is the fact that most divorce laws vary from state to state, and in some cases, from county to county. While most states offer “no fault” divorce proceedings, some jurisdictions will still consider specific grounds for divorce, rather than “no fault.” According to Justin Reckers, a certified financial planner, divorce financial analyst, and CEO of WellSpring Divorce Advisors, “Worst case scenario they try to do it themselves and screw it up. In most jurisdictions, a division of assets and debt is final and you cannot change it unless both parties agree.”
Attempts at “DIY” divorce can also prove to be a nightmare later down the line when a divorcing couple is forced to sign off on a settlement agreement. If the two are not truly in agreement and have also not secured legal counsel to work out their disagreement, it can be a frustrating situation for a judge. “The one thing divorce judges will tell you is that they are very frustrated when people come to their court without an attorney,” says Slowiaczek.
One suggestion for couples that want to handle their own divorce, or who are looking to manage any mounting costs, is to work with an attorney prior to filing. Slowiaczek suggests “You can hire a lawyer to just look at the paperwork to find out if you are on the right track. Many times you can just do that.”
But when it comes down to it, “you have to put it in perspective,” says Slowiaczek. “When you look at divorce it’s the rest of your life.”It’s like a wedding, and people don’t think twice about spending $6,000 to $8,000 for flowers or $10,000 for a honeymoon.”
Working with a Divorce Attorney
When it comes to deciding on issues of child custody and spousal support, you might want to consider working with a divorce attorney.
Child custody issues can quickly become complicated. This is especially the case if the parents are not able to work together to co-parent or develop a successful co-parenting situation.
There are different forms of child custody: legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, and joint custody.
Alimony, often called “spousal support” is when one spouse pays the other in order to help that spouse maintain the same financial standing as was experienced during the marriage. A court will require the higher earning spouse to assist the lower in maintaining that standard of lifestyle that was achieved during the marriage.
Steps of the Divorce Process
Whatever your reason for considering divorce, there are set steps you will need to take to get divorced.
Step 1: Decide How to Proceed
How you begin your divorce will be dependent on the particulars of your marriage and your relationship. A divorce of a marriage where the spouses have been married for a short period of time, have no children, and little property or debts is typically less involved than a divorce where the couple has been married for a long period of time, shares minor children, or where there is significant property or debt to be divided. If both parties are seeking the divorce, the process will most likely be easier, versus a situation where one spouse is contesting the divorce. You will need to take a look at your specific situation in order to best gauge how you want to proceed.
Step 2: The Divorce Petition
To start the divorce process one of the spouses must file a divorce petition. Even if both spouses are in agreement, one of them must file a petition that states the grounds of the divorce with the court asking for the divorce. Grounds for the divorce vary from state to state. California is a no-fault state, meaning no fault is placed on either party regardless of infidelity, etc… But all jurisdictions allow for some type of no-fault grounds such as “irreconcilable differences.” Some states will consider fault grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abandonment. A family law attorney will be able to advise you your state specific laws regarding grounds for divorce
Step 3: Temporary Orders
If one spouse is seeking to receive financial support (as alimony) or custody of children, that spouse will need to ask the court for temporary orders for that support and custody. This temporary order is usually granted within a few days of the initial petition and will remain in effect until the full divorce court hearing. If the party seeking the temporary order is the same party who is filing the divorce petition, it’s advised that they file both the divorce petition and the temporary order at the same time. If you are not the party that filed the divorce petition, but are looking for support or child custody, you should file your request for that support as soon as possible.
Step 4: Proof of Service and Responding
Once a spouse files for divorce he or she also needs to file for a proof of service of process. This document proves that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. Your family law attorney can help ensure this is done, or you can work with a process server. If both spouses have agreed to divorce, it’s usually the spouse that files the divorce that arranges for the the service of process to the other party’s attorney.
When the service of process is received, that spouse needs to file a response to the divorce petition. In states where grounds for divorce can be filed, this response is where to address or dispute those grounds for divorce. Also, if the spouse receiving the petition has any disagreement with the put forth property division, support, custody terms, or any other issue, this should be added to the response.
Step 5: Negotiating
When two spouses are not in agreement on child custody and visitation, child support, property division and any spousal support, they will need to find a way to negotiate the terms of their divorce. Disagreeing spouses might consider working with a meditation lawyer, as it is in their best interest to work out as much as possible out of court. This will help to cut down on legal fees and time spent arguing. The negotiation process is the hardest part of the divorce process. As we all know from public divorce disputes, the negotiations can sometimes take years if a couple is not able to come to an agreement.
Step 6: Order of Dissolution
Once everything is decided upon an order of dissolution is created that outlines out how the property and debts are to be divided, what child custody and visitation schedule is, what support payments (spousal and child) need to be paid, and any other aspects that have been agreed on. If the spouses are able to negotiate their own resolution to all of these aspects, their lawyers will draft the order of dissolution and submit it to the court. If the Order of Dissolution complies with legal requirements and both parties entered into it knowingly and willingly and can attest to it, then the judge approves it. At this point, the divorce is finalized.
Working with a Family Law Attorney
Whatever your reason is for divorce, you should consider working with a family law attorney. They will be able to advise you on any number of issues, including: child support, spousal support, marital property division, child visitation, etc… A lawyer from the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA will be able to guide you through the divorce process. The Divorce & Family Law Offices of Divorce Law LA will provide you with the highest level of expertise and professionalism from our skilled attorneys. Our Divorce and Family Law Practice spans a wide spectrum of areas that include: divorce, high net-worth divorce, marital property division, child custody and visitation, and child support.
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