All Things Family Law

Discussion of all things related to family law from an Indiana divorce attorney.

This blog provides general family law and divorce law information. If you have a specific issue or case you need assistance with please contact me directly. 

Indiana Divorce & Online Divorce Forms : Limited Scope Representation

More and more online do-it-yourself ("DIY") divorce resources are sprouting up everyday. Some of the popular and well-known companies are Legalzoom and Divorcewriter. Even our Indiana Supreme Court has published an online DIY form program (very user friendly) for people who, for economic or personal reasons, do not want to go the traditional route of hiring attorneys to handle their case.

Also, consider that online legal research resources are much improved and for many uses, free. See Google Scholar as an example.

With these online form services, and the availability of better online research resources, will need for a divorce attorney be obsolete? Not quite.

The online resources and DIY divorce kits are best suited for parties who have simple marital estates and agree on everything, but, even then while the forms can cause the marriage to be dissolved they cannot provide legal advice. The legal advice is crucial for most people. There are good reasons why attorneys say that a man who represents himself will have a fool for a client.

Example: About once a month our office gets a call from someone who "thinks there was a mistake" because his name (usually a he) was left on the mortgage when he "signed the quitclaim deed." There is a long pause after we explain that a quitclaim deed has nothing to do with the mortgage. There was no mistake. The form, which was coverted into a binding court order with the judge's signature, clearly left him obligated on the mortgage for an indefinite amount of time, while his ex-wife continues to live there. Oh yeah, and the real rub is that by giving her the quitclaim deed he gave her his half of the equity in home. A second long pause and, I suspect, nausea. The mistake was his - he thought the quitclaim deed relieved his obligation on the mortgage.

Any attorney would have been helpful in the above scenario, and an attorney's advice is still possible when using legal forms. In lawyer-speak we call this unbundling legal services, or limited-scope representation. All this really means is that an attorney can be hired to help with only part of the case, or, in this example, to review and provide feedback to the divorce settlement agreement.

If you or someone you know are considering using online forms, also consider getting an attorney to review the forms and provide feedback.

For more on unbundling legal services see Sam Hasler's blog posting, or a posting by the Indiana Law Blog regarding limited-scope representation.

The review or transmission of information at this site is not legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.   All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Should you be seeking legal advice, I recommend you retain an attorney. Please contact me  here.