Divorce Cyber Style

Divorce has always been such an ugly thing. No one, even those who desire an amicable dissolution of marriage, emerges from a divorce unscathed. In one respect or another, after it's over, almost everyone feels like a victim because divorce makes a person feel like a failure. Even though a marriage takes two people to make a go of it, it still feels like a personal failure when it doesn't succeed.

By the time a couple decides to go their separate ways, there is so much anger, hurt, and bitterness, that they are beyond the point where they can be reasonable about the division of assets. They don't even care that most of their settlement will go toward attorneys' fees; they just want their day in court.

Hence, the high-priced divorce attorneys of yesteryear.

Divorce has always been a lucrative field for attorneys. There are no state or federal laws governing the fee structure an attorney can charge to handle a divorce. There is nothing to stop him or her from asking an exorbitant retainer fee before taking the case.

In the past, it wasn't unusual for a spouse to want to take the other one to the cleaners. That's how divorce attorneys made their money. They were often accused, and many rightly so, of egging their clients on to sue for more money, ask for more things, just so they could run up more billable hours.

But those days have come and gone. At least for now.

Today, many of those high-priced attorneys are scraping for a living because of the failing economy and the easy access that people have for handling their own divorces.

With unemployment at an all-time high, and the economy at an all- time low, people who are in unhappy marriages have found a way to extricate themselves from their misery with do-it-yourself divorce kits. Some of these kits are free of charge. Others cost anywhere from $95.00 to a few hundred dollars and come with a set of instructions for how to file for divorce in the state where you and your spouse are living.

And now there are cyber-divorce kits that are being called point- and-click splits because you can get the divorce forms online and fill them out in twenty minutes to a few hours. Since this is an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can sit in front of a computer and just point and click your answers to the questions that are asked.

There are different kinds of services. With some of them, there is a legal team that goes over the answers to your questionnaire and they fill out the papers and mail them to you. Other services use a software program that uses your answers to fill out the documents, and then the program lets you and your spouse download these divorce papers, sign them, and submit them to a court.

Depending on the state laws where you and your spouse reside, you can fax or mail these divorce papers to the courthouse. However, some states require you to be there in person in case counseling is recommended.

But all divorces: do-yourself-divorce kits or cyber-divorce over the internet, fax the papers or mail them, or go in person to file them at the courthouse, all require a judge's signature on the divorce decree. Although a cyber-divorce is legal, many judges disapprove of them because they feel that the dissolution of a marriage is a serious matter and people won't give it the gravity it deserves if all they have to do is sit at a computer and click on some answers.

In spite of that, many couples feel that since they have been unhappy enough to consider a divorce, it is better to get it over with quickly while they are still capable of being civil to each other. Then, too, there are a couple of important benefits to consider in getting a cyber-divorce: they are more affordable than going to an attorney and they can be done without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

The important thing in getting a cyber-divorce is that you have to agree on all the issues. There will be queries on that questionnaire pertaining to child support, alimony, custody of minors, visitation, alternating vacations, education, medical and dental expenses, health insurance, and division of property and all your other assets, including who gets the family dog and visitation rights.

If you do decide to go this route, it will probably be the one time in your entire marriage that you will agree on everything. In fact, you have to agree on all the answers so that it can be an uncontested cyber-divorce.

Marriage and divorce are serious matters but Erin Monaghan injected a bit of graveyard humor into it when she wrote in her article, Online Divorce - Is It Legal?, "Marriage is a sacred union between two people who can get married at a drive through in Las Vegas and divorced over the internet."

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