You may have heard this saying at some point in your life: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! These are sage words, especially when it comes to legal services. You may have already started searching for cheap divorce options online. After all, you found this post somehow, didn't you? Many offer do-it-yourself forms for a fraction of the cost of what lawyers charge for even a single billable hour. So far, so good. Some come with guarantees and promise the process will be quick and easy if you follow their [inset number here] simple steps. But when you buy their product and spend the time to figure our what their simple steps entail, you can find yourself lost in a quagmire of desperation and loneliness - left with what actually turns out to be really expensive “cheap online divorce paperwork.” The tragedy in all of this is that in addition to spending your hard earned money, you still may not get the job done.
So, what are you to do? Consider the following before you take a single step forward:
- Know with whom you are dealing. Do you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right with some of those online divorce sites? There are a lot of online services out there that promise the world and deliver nothing more than printed words on paper in the end. A good rule of thumb is to first check to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate business, one that is literally managed by a licensed attorney - in your state. Anyone can make a website and take your money. If they are local, look them up online separately from their website. Do they show up in Google? Do they have a physical presence? Where exactly are they based? Do they provide you with a local number to call? Can you speak with a paralegal or attorney? If you leave a message or send an online inquiry, do you receive a response within 24 hours or less? Are they accredited with the Better Business Bureau?
- Know exactly what you’re buying. Are you buying paperwork that you have to fill in or are they entering the information you provided for you? If you really want to tackle a do-it-yourself legal project, go for it! But consider this: What do you do with the paperwork? Do they give clear instructions? Do they handle the paperwork for you? Who files it with the court? In what court should you file and why? Will they see your divorce through to the end? Where do you turn when something goes wrong? What's an errata sheet?
- Know whether there are any hidden costs. Is there a court filing fee on top of the cost you paid for the paperwork? How much is that? Do you need a separation agreement? If not, should you have one? If you get stuck, is there an attorney on the other end that can help you? Does that same attorney provide legal advice? Does it cost anything extra? Is that listed anywhere on their website? What if the court rejects the paperwork or you decide you want to back out before finalizing your divorce? How much does it cost?
Sometimes, you just know when something's not right. Other times, you don’t have a clue and need to dig a little deeper. Online divorce is one of those times. Even if you think “this” is your thing, it can still be very time consuming. If you are unsure about what to do, we encourage you to call us. If talking isn’t something you’re up for, email us. While we handle everything electronically, that doesn’t mean you are alone in the process. With Frugal Legal Services®, there is a living breathing experienced family law on the other end handling your case. Don’t believe me? Let me take just another moment of your time to answer some of those questions posed above (brace yourself, there are a lot of them):
- Do you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right with your online divorce? Let me put your mind at ease. First of all, I am the attorney that is responsible for handling your divorce from start to finish. I’ve been in practice here in the Hampton Roads area handling divorces just like yours for more than ten years. I live in Virginia Beach and have a wife and four school-aged children.
- If they are local, look them up online separate from their website. Do they show up in Google? You can visit our primary website at www.burroughs-law.com or you can simply Google me [search online] and see what comes up. Go ahead, I’m really okay with it.
- Do they have a physical presence? Yes. We are located in the heart of Virginia Beach, near Town Center in the Pembroke area, and handle online divorce for clients from all over Virginia. Since we eFile your divorce, it doesn’t matter where in Virginia you and/or your spouse live. We can file it locally and then transfer it back to your local jurisdiction should you ever need to deal with any issues in the future.
- Where exactly are they [we] based? Our physical address is 3500 Virginia Beach Blvd, #410, Virginia Beach, VA 23452. While we do not necessarily sit in the office all day waiting for customers to pour in from the streets, we are available in the office or phone by appointment.
- Do they [you] provide you [me] with a local number to call? Yes. Our main office number is (757) 363-0077. Our secondary number is (757) 745-3454. Call either one now if you have any questions or concerns.
- Can you [I] speak with a paralegal or attorney? When you call, you will speak with either, depending on who answers. We will field your questions and help put your mind at ease. You will never speak with a generic answering service.
- If you [I] leave a message or send an online inquiry, do you [I] receive a response within 24 hours or less? Just like before, we encourage you to call us. If we're not available to answer right away, leave a message. Our goal is to respond during the same or following business day, depending on when you call.
- Are they accredited with the Better Business Bureau? We are. Here’s the link: http://www.bbb.org/norfolk/business-reviews/attorneys-and-lawyers/burroughs-law-office-pc-in-virginia-beach-va-90037896#sealclick
- Are you buying paperwork that you have to fill in or are they entering the information you provided? After we receive your responses to our questionnaire, we draft all of your divorce documents for you. We do request that you review each document we send carefully to check for any errors and to make sure that you fully understand what you are signing and what we are filing on your behalf.
- What do you [I] do with the paperwork? Other than reviewing and signing paperwork we draft for you, nothing. If retained, we file it for you.
- Do they give clear instructions? Your attorney will correspond with you directly. Every time we send a document, we send clear instructions for you to review. If you don’t understand something, just email the attorney back so (s)he can explain it differently or in terms with which you are comfortable. We also have an abundance of information available on our website.
- Do they handle the paperwork for you [me]? We draft everything required for filing and finalizing your divorce for you.
- In what court should you [I] file and why? We eFile every Virginia divorce locally in Norfolk, Virginia. Jurisdiction is ultimately transferred back to your local county or city. We do this for a couple of reasons. First, we are physically located close to the Norfolk Circuit Court. Second, we’d file in Virginia Beach, but they do not offer eFiling at this time. Lastly, it has been my personal experience that the system is well-managed in Norfolk, meaning your divorce is timely processed and handled well. We love the clerks there. They are fantastic people and do a wonderful job!
- Is there a court filing fee on top of the cost you [I] paid for the paperwork? Not with Frugal Legal Services®. If we are retained to finalize your divorce, we will cover the cost to file for divorce. All of our prices are clearly listed on our products page.
- How much does it cost to file? In Norfolk, we cover the filing fee. That fee is $89.44. Some cities may charge more, but it isn’t something you need to worry about. You will not need to pay anything more if you retain our firm to finalize your divorce and all parties are cooperative.
- If you [I] get stuck, is there an attorney on the other end that can help you [me]? You will work directly with your attorney to finalize your divorce. If there are any hiccups, you are covered.
- Does that same attorney provide legal advice? We offer discounted hourly rates for current Frugal Legal Services® clients. That means that if you need legal advice, the attorney handling your case can provide it for you.
- Does it cost anything extra? It can, but again, we offer discounted rates if it becomes necessary. Most simple questions are handled without issue.
- Is that listed anywhere on their website? It clearly is listed on our products page. You can purchase time in 30 minute increments.
- What if the court rejects the paperwork or you [I] decide you [I] want to back out before finalizing your divorce? How much does it cost? Like all of our products, the costs are clearly listed on the products page. As for the process, your attorney can address any concerns the court may have for you. In rare situations, you may be required to appear in person. In that event, assuming it is through no fault of yours or your spouse, we handle it at no cost to you on our end. If you prefer to nonsuit your case due to a reconciliation, there is a cost associated with that, but like everything else, it is a flat rate fee and is all inclusive.
So, while many things actually are too good to be true, Frugal Legal Services® isn’t one of them. People are often apprehensive due to the low cost or the fact that it’s all online, but we are literally a phone call away. Handling your divorce online helps us keep the cost low and streamlines the process for you. We do, however, understand that you want to know we’re real, that we’re not too good to be true. Call and find out for yourself. It may be the best decision you’ll make.