Out Atlanta divorce attorneys are often asked what benefit they can provide beyond a Do-It-Yourself legal website. A recent Consumer Reports article entitled “Legal DIY websites are no match for a pro – They provide services for a fraction of what you’d pay a lawyer” reviewed three of the top Legal DIY websites – LegalZoom, Nolo and Rocket Lawyer. The conclusion reached in this article was that these sites were acceptable if your situation was simple, but will likely not be sufficient if there are children or significant joint assets/debts involved. At Meriwether & Tharp LLC, we have had clients who first had divorce documents prepared at one of these websites, but ended up hiring us to properly draft these documents. The cost for Legal Zoom is substantially less than our retainer, but as the old saying goes “You get what you pay for”.
A site like LegalZoom prepares documents for all states. Thus, the documents that you receive are boilerplate documents and are not tailored to your particular situation or your particular state/county. One of the disadvantages of using this site is that you may not get an attorney who is familiar with certain courts or Judges in Metro Atlanta. One of the advantages to hiring one of our experienced Atlanta divorce attorneys is that we have tried cases in most of the Metro Atlanta counties and we are familiar with the Judges. Our paralegals are familiar with filing procedures so your divorce or other family law related matter is filed properly with the Court. Some counties, such as Cobb and Gwinnett, require documents to be filed that are specific to that county only so it is important that you hire someone who is knowledgeable about a specific county.
With the current economy and unemployment rate, it is understandable why people are choosing to use a less expensive alternative to hiring an attorney. If you are considering using a site such as Legal Zoom, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do my spouse and I have any minor children?
- Do my spouse and I own a home?
- Do my spouse and I have any credit cards together?
- Do my spouse and I have any bank accounts together?
- Does either party need/want alimony?
- Do either my spouse or I have any retirement accounts?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions, we recommend hiring, or at least consulting with, an attorney regarding your divorce. If you have already used the services of a Legal DIY site, we recommend that you have an attorney review these documents to make sure that they comply with the requirements of the county in which you filed. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys at Meriwether & Tharp, please call our office at 678-879-9000. We charge a consultation fee of $200.00. Even if you do not retain us to represent you in your legal matter, you will have peace of mind after you meet with one of attorneys.
By Amy Trice, Paralegal, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC