Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Can an online divorce produce a legal divorce agreement?

Divorces used to involve a court battle in which – in many cases -- two spouses had their private affairs publicized and their futures determined by a judge who had little insight into the dynamics of the family. Fortunately, other options are available, and divorcing couples in Massachusetts can have some control over important decisions and reach a divorce agreement. However, in cases in which spouses are unwilling to provide financial information, have conflicting personalities or when one spouse refuses to divorce, litigation may be the only suitable option to secure a divorce.

Divorce mediation is an alternative that is gaining in popularity and typically requires less money and time as a litigated divorce; it's also  not as emotionally exhausting. It provides divorcing couples the platform to negotiate all contentious issues with the facilitation of an independent mediator. This process allows the parties to maintain control over many of the decisions that will impact their post-divorce lives. Some lawyers are also qualified divorce mediators, though they may not give legal advice during mediation. However, the parties may have their respective attorneys present to provide guidance during mediation sessions.

Another option is to navigate a pro se, or so called do-it-yourself divorce. Couples who were married for a short time and have no property, no children, no business interests and no joint debts may find this option attractive. However, even the slightest mistake in a DIY divorce can lead to expensive litigation at a later stage. One option is for spouses to hire attorneys to handle all the legalities of preparing the documents, but represent themselves in the court.

Massachusetts individuals who research divorce options on the internet will likely come across opportunities to do it online. This typically involves answering a range of questions and having documentation created online, followed by divorce papers -- all at a fee. Even so, the papers must still be submitted to a court and signed by a family court judge. Otherwise, the divorce agreement will not be valid.

Source: divorcedmoms.com, "4 Ways You Can Get Divorced And 1 Way You Can't", Karen Covy, May 21, 2016

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