By Attorney Howard Iken: The Internet has revolutionized the practice of law. People are downloading and using self-help forms in record numbers. The State of Florida has gone so far as to develop in excess of 100 self-help family law forms. These are fill-in-the-blank documents that are directly to many common procedures that happen daily in family law court. You can find forms for divorce, paternity, alimony, enforcement, and just about everything else. A quick search on the Internet will produce dozens, if not hundreds of websites offering cheap, quick “custom drafted” documents, ready to sign and file. And a search in the App store on an Iphone will reveal services that appear to make lawyers obsolete for a mere $1.99. So why is the number of lawyers in existence so high, and how do they continue to make a living?
The reason is that self-help and Internet based solutions are great unless a problem arises. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Pretty much, anything and everything is great until a problem rolls along. That describes most events in life. The problem with a divorce or custody situation is that problems do not become visible until a year or two after the case is finished. Not all situations have a problem but the ones that do are deceptively simple until the one or two year mark. Most of the time a quick scan of the fill-in-the-blank document will reveal that the creator of that form did not think of that possible problem. Do-it-yourself forms do not, and will never do your thinking for you. That is the danger. People assume that an official form, with pre-defined blanks is well thought out and has “your back covered.”
When problems to occur, a few are simple to fix but the majority of problems become giant complex monsters. The cost to fix those problems exceeds the cost if you had originally hired an attorney to begin with. And sometimes problems are not fixable.
Of course that does not answer the question: What if you could not afford an attorney to begin with? The answer is deceptively simple: Get the best help you can afford. If that means getting a $1.99 app, so be it. If it means you can afford a two hundred dollar consultation – it is worth it. If you are dealing with a potential $100,000 over the next 15 years, and can afford full representation, it would be foolish not to get an attorney. There is no shame in not being able to afford the best. But if you have a serious situation, are working full time, and decide that $1.99 will solve your problem; I wish you good luck. You will probably need it.
Ayo and Iken offers free consultations with our Tampa Divorce Attorneys, in our Hyde Park Office. We also have an Orlando office staffed with experienced Divorce Lawyers. Call us now for a free consultation.