Divorce – Lower Cost Alternatives to an Attorney


Divorce - Lower Cost Alternatives to an Attorney

Divorce can affect your relationship with your children, your present finances, and your finances during the next 30 years. How you handle your divorce settlement can affect your life for many years.


By: Howard Iken

Many years ago hiring a divorce attorney was financially devastating for many people. Divorce was for the wealthy. The rest of us had no options. We had to beg, borrow, or steal to find the money for an attorney. But now there are more options than ever before for anyone facing a divorce.

Do Everything Yourself:

“Doing everything yourself” has become an option in many states with the advent of approved self-help forms. For example, the state of Florida has produced a complete set of Family Law Self-Help forms. These forms have been carefully reviewed by the state Bar association and subsequently approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Each form is accompanied by instructions on proper use. Because Florida Statutes reference those self-help forms, they are accepted by all Florida courts. Many, if not all states, have adopted some type of self-help forms. You can usually download the forms from your state court website or purchase an inexpensive pack of forms at your local courthouse.

The Advantage:

The forms are free and you do not need a lawyer to file them.

The Disadvantage:

The instructions can be confusing, complex, and difficult to follow and you may be sacrificing some serious legal rights without realizing you are doing so.

Online Forms Preparation Service:

The internet has brought major changes to the delivery of legal services. One recent change is universal availability of online forms services. For a fee usually ranging around two hundred dollars, these services will conduct an online interview and generate a custom set of forms, ready to file with the court in your area. These services are easy, quick, and as convenient as the nearest computer. The better services keep track of changes in each state and adjust their forms accordingly.

The Advantage:

The forms are accurately and neatly filled out at an affordable cost.

The Disadvantage:

Same as “do-it-yourself – you are on your own during the divorce. There is no advice or help if something goes wrong.

Attorney – Forms Only Service:

Florida and many other states have adopted a concept called “Unbundled Services.” This concept is an official recognition that many people want to hire an attorney for one small part of their case. They have access to expert advice at an affordable price. Many attorneys offer a form preparation service similar to the online services. The key difference is the forms are prepared or supervised by an attorney.

The Advantage:

The security of knowing the forms are done correctly by a local expert.

The Disadvantage:

You are still on your own during the divorce. However, because you established a relationship with an attorney, you may have access to the attorney for occasional advice if you run into difficulty.

So Which Option Should You Use?

Divorce can affect your relationship with your children, your present finances, and your finances during the next 30 years. What you do now can affect your life for many years. The simple answer: Take the best option you can afford. If you can afford full representation from an attorney – that is best. If you cannot afford anything – the “do-it-yourself” method is best. However, whichever route you take: Educate yourself, proceed carefully, and educate yourself some more. Remember, knowledge is power. The person with the most knowledge always comes out ahead.


Copyright 2006 The Divorce Center P.A.

About The Author:

Howard Iken is an attorney in the Tampa Florida area. He practices exclusively in family and divorce law. You can find out more about his law practice, The Divorce Center P.A. by logging into his website http://www.18884MyDivorce.com. An explanation of fees for a Florida divorce can be found at http://www.18884mydivorce.com/pub/Fees/fees.htm.


Photo: smellyknee