LegalZoom is a modern version of the do-it-yourself legal forms available at office supply stores. This DIY approach to the law treats legal forms like mad libs: just fill in the form and that’s it. Typically the justification for LegalZoom for divorce in Texas is cost. While I understand the cost perspective, there are key concerns to consider before using LegalZoom for a divorce, or any legal need. Many people seek low cost divorce attorneys and other low cost options for their divorces. Often these non-lawyer options claim to be low cost and affordable. However, when you look at the pricing model and risks involved it may not be as cheap as you think. Hiring a divorce lawyer may be more cost effective.
1. LegalZoom is not always the cheapest option. LegalZoom is not always the cheapest option for your Tarrant County, Texas divorce.
Although it provides divorce forms for a reasonable amount, you have to consider the cost of filing with the court and your time. If something is wrong with the forms, you will have to figure out how to correct them or hire an attorney to fix it. (And I know several lawyers around the country that make a lot of money fixing LegalZoom forms.) If serious about using forms, you can find these forms for free on family court websites in Texas. Save yourself the several hundred dollars on LegalZoom and really do it yourself (and hope you fill everything out correctly). If you are dead set on not using a divorce attorney in Tarrant County, Texas then consider why you should pay for forms already available to you for free.
2. LegalZoom cannot advise you on how to protect your access to your children and fairly dividing property under the Texas Family Code.
Although LegalZoom offers some access to lawyers – for an additional fee – it requires you to know you need help. Sometimes spouses suggest child custody arrangements or divisions of assets that seem reasonable but have disastrous effects down the road. The only way you’re going to know how to find those hidden disasters is hiring an experienced attorney looking out for you. Well, you could always learn the law and the traps to filing a divorce; but then the time value learning all of that may exceed the cost of a reasonably priced divorce lawyer. Even then you still lack the lessons of experience.
The problem here is that if you do a poor job dividing property or setting up a custody and possession schedule then you may either be stuck with it permanently or at least spend a lot more money on a lawyer to fix the problems. This is a risk you should consider before filing for divorce without a family law attorney.
3. After the court grants the divorce few opportunities exist to fix a bad division of assets/debts or child arrangements in Texas.
Since LegalZoom lacks the ability to proactively confirm the agreements with you and make sure it protects your interests, once you get a divorce granted it is very difficult to go back and explain to the court why an agreement deserves to be undone because you didn’t understand the form you signed. Saving yourself a few hundred dollars by using an online service instead of hiring a divorce lawyer near you could end up costing you thousands down the road.
The up-front cost savings of LegalZoom is attractive, but consider the risks involved. Is your relationship with your children worth saving a few hundred dollars? Keeping your retirement savings? Is property division fair? I’m not trying to engage in scare tactics, these are real concerns.