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Exploring the Emerging Trend of Online Divorce in Texas

All of us are looking for an easier way to do things. Whether it's at work, at home, or in our marriages we want convenience. In many cases we demand convenience. What we had thought of us as a luxury ten years ago is now seen as a necessity. Grocery shop for our food? Your store had better have an online order and curbside pickup option or we won't stop there. That's not to mention the old standbys of convenience such as the microwave, drive, and countless other conveniences that we demand in our daily lives. 

One of the processes that many of us never expected to be able to perform on a faster or easier basis was that of a divorce. Nobody can get around the difficulties, time commitments, and stresses of a divorce. Even celebrities on television had to go through the same process that we do. Celebrities- they're just like us! When you filed for divorce or had a divorce filed against you it was just the reality of the situation that you were going to go through something difficult and would need to suck it up and just keep going. Hopefully, on the other side of the divorce, you would be able to get out of the marriage and have a good story to tell friends when it was all said and done. 

It was in this arena that the Online Divorce stepped. Online divorces were sold as being easier, faster, and less expensive than a standard divorce. Instead of hiring a lawyer, you would pay a company to get the divorce done for you. It was promised that this divorce would be quicker than a standard divorce. Lawyers slowed down the divorce by filing motions and being overly active in the case. What these online divorce websites said was that their methods would make them a faster and therefore better option for you to consider. 

An online divorce would require that you still file with an Original Petition for Divorce. Once the petition was filed you could have your spouse served with divorce papers and then your spouse would need to file an Answer to your Petition. If push comes to shove and some real legal difficulties arise then these online divorce hubs offer lawyers, mediators, and legal finance people to be able to help you get through your divorce. 

Since these websites cater to a national population, it would be necessary to make sure that your online divorce company would be able to represent you in a Texas divorce. Fortunately, Texas is a state where many websites would be able to assist you. While you were considering whether to file for divorce an online divorce company provided you with nearly limitless resources as far as helping you learn more about the divorce process. After all, it wasn't as if the divorce website could sidestep the laws and processes that all of us were bound to follow. So, it would make sense that you would still want to learn as much as you could about getting divorced in Texas. This was especially true since you would not be able to just dial up your attorney like you would if you chose a traditional attorney-client relationship. 

What can you pay for when you hire an online divorce company?

One of the more interesting features of online divorce is that you would be able to choose your relationship with the company and its employees. For instance, if you wanted to represent yourself in the divorce (pro se) rather than have any kind of representation then you could choose this route. Depending upon the online divorce company you chose you would be able to hire the website to provide you with divorce coaching for an hour, two hours, or even more. The limits were up to the company and varied from website to website. You would need to find a company that handled Texas divorces and could provide you with the service(s) you desired. 

This is a good option, perhaps, for people who have a relatively simple divorce and just have a few questions to ask an attorney before filing a document or creating a plan for the possession of children, or how to divide up community property. For a few hundred dollars you would be able to call up the online divorce company and have them connect you to an attorney (licensed in Texas) for some advice and perspective on your case. From there you can use that information to help you proceed in negotiations, draft a document, or even appear in court for a hearing. For the person on a budget, this would be the most cost-conscious option. 

Calculate child support

Suppose that you and your spouse were involved in an uncontested divorce where the two of you agreed on all of the subjects related to your case. In that situation, you may have a general understanding of your agreements but may need some help in specific areas or when calculating certain figures such as child support. Because child support depends upon taking into consideration multiple forms of income which may or may not be relevant in your case it can be a challenge to come up with a specific figure for child support in these circumstances. As a result, without the assistance of an attorney, you may need to have some additional perspective on the situation.

For a flat fee, you could hire an online divorce company to be able to provide you with a consultation for calculating child support given your specific situation. For example, if your husband worked multiple jobs then it may be more difficult for you to come up with a specific child support target. An online divorce company could help you by providing you with information about how child support could be calculated based on your circumstances and the law in Texas. You may even be able to have them provide you with a range of figures based on different streams of income or even consider the needs of your child such as a disability, private school tuition, or things of this nature.

Mediation services

Many online divorce services employ professional mediators who can help you and your spouse bridge any gaps in communication and help you work out settlements to complex situations involving your divorce. Whether you get stuck on an issue related to your community property division, children or both an experienced mediator can be exactly who you need to talk to to help bring your divorce to a satisfactory conclusion. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for you and your spouse to find an experienced mediator when you are doing an online divorce. Working with the company that is helping you obtain the divorce can be an effective way for you to reach a settlement when roadblocks were starting to appear. Do not underestimate the power of a good mediator. 

The mediators for these online divorce companies do not work for you or your spouse. Rather, the mediator will serve both of you equally in hopes of helping you create a settlement agreement that suits both parties equally well. Your mediator may be an attorney, in which case she will make it known that they represent neither you nor your spouse in an attorney-client relationship. The key to mediation working out for you and your spouse is for the two of you to come in with positive attitudes geared toward a successful settlement.

If there has been tension developing between the two of you leading up to mediation, then a mediator can be a huge help when it comes to taking the tension out of the room and allowing you all to better focus on the issues of your case. Sometimes even well-meaning spouses can become frustrated with one another during a divorce. Mediation allows you and your spouse to set aside personal differences and instead interact with each other through another person. That this person is skilled at working with people like yourself in a divorce scenario is a bonus. 

The mediator will not be there to provide you with legal advice, although he or she will be familiar with the family laws of Texas. Rather, the mediator will give your perspective, information, and the ability to see your circumstances through another set of eyes. Looking at your case from a different vantage point can be invaluable especially if the two of you have been viewing the case through a certain prism for an extended period. It is like taking a step away from the situation and reapproaching a friend. He or she can often provide you with advice that you hadn't considered before simply based on their having a different vantage point. 

The mediator can propose different solutions to your problems. You and your spouse can each consider those hypothetical solutions and can work with one another to collaborate on a framework that works better for you and your spouse. Remember that even if you and your spouse are having issues agreeing on various issues you all know the circumstances of your case better than anyone else. As a result, you can approach the challenges of your case better than even a judge or mediator. With that said, remember that the mediator can set you up for success. If you can find “win-win” situations, you can use the momentum of those victories to carry you through in situations where you and your spouse have been unable to see eye to eye when it comes to settlement negotiations. 

Drafting final documents in your divorce

When your divorce is finally nearing its endpoint one of the last and most important steps of a case involves drafting documents. You can make or break your case depending upon the quality of the orders that you draft and submit to the judge for their signature. Without those orders, the case you spent so long going through will have not been worth the effort. Rather, you need to be able to have enforceable, clear, and well-written final orders so that your post-divorce life will proceed as smoothly as possible. 

Online divorce websites have attorneys on staff to be able to review your mediated settlement agreement or your settlement notes and will draft final orders for you. It makes sense to be able to provide this person with as much information as you can so that the orders are written clearly and enforceable. As we mentioned a moment ago, the last thing you want is for those orders to not be worth the paper that they are printed on. 

It is difficult to go through a divorce without any guidance. While you can find forms online that will give you pointers on completing a final decree of divorce there are often additional forms that will also need to be filed along with your final decree. Domestic Relations Orders, wage withholding orders for child support as well as deeds of trust to secure the assumption if your home is not going to be sold are additional forms that may need to be filed along with your final decree of divorce.

You should inquire with your online divorce company about whether they will also help you with these forms. Sometimes these companies will offer help with a limited set of documents for a certain sum of money and then will require an additional down payment to draft more complex documents. However, you should ask your online divorce representative what their policies are before proceeding any further. For example, a final decree of divorce being drafted may cost you $250 but getting all the additional forms completed may require an additional payment of some sort. 

Advantages to traditional divorce representation 

While we have covered some of the advantages and benefits of having an online divorce, I would still like to make it known to you that there are certain distinct advantages to going through a divorce with a traditional attorney-client relationship. While you can see that there are limitations as far as to the extent which an online divorce company will work for you, when you sign up with an experienced family attorney, he or she can walk you through the process, educate you about your case and then work with you on drafting documents. This is not to mention attending a hearing with you or preparing a trial on your behalf. When you sign up with an attorney that is not online you can get the best of both worlds.

Family law attorneys bill by the hour. This means that instead of being paid a flat fee and then doing no more work beyond that, your attorney will perform the necessary work and then bill you for it based on the total time that the job took to complete. As long as you are paying your attorney as agreed to in your contract with him or her you do not need to worry that work will not be performed. I can tell you from experience that the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan perform work activities for cases that are relatively simple to very complex. Our goal in doing so is the same for every client: to help you achieve your goals and to do so most cost-effectively and ethically possible. We pride ourselves on being proactive so that if one work has to be done in your case we can think ahead and plan for the method that will cost you the least amount of money yet will yield the most amount of results.

The other benefit to hiring a traditional attorney to represent you in your divorce case is that you will be physically able to interact with a lawyer that you hire. Our office is open to clients six days a week so if you do have questions about your case you can come into our office to learn more about the process and prepare for the next steps in your case. this is not an opportunity that you would have when hiring an online divorce company to represent you. At best, you will likely be exchanging emails and phone calls with non-attorney personnel in the office.

When it comes to being represented in a divorce you certainly will have options available to you. I hope that by reading today's blog post you can learn a little bit more about online divorce. While an online divorce certainly has its place among the different options available to you when it comes to ending your marriage, we believe that a traditional attorney-client relationship is what will serve you and your family best. Reaching out to the attorneys with our office today is a great way for you to move forward to learn more about your case and the options available to you.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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