Plenty of online sites promise free, nearly free, or moderately priced legal documents at the click of a mouse. But are they any good? Will they even work in Virginia? What should you know before investing time and money in a do-it-yourself separation agreement for the great state of Virginia?
Do It Yourself, but Make Sure It’s Specific to Virginia
First, is the online separation agreement tool specific to the Commonwealth? If it does not honor Virginia law, a Virginia court may not honor it. Some of these “one-size-fits-most” online tools are useless and expensive; they try to avoid state-specific law and instead use boilerplate language too vague to be legally defensible.
Be absolutely certain a Virginia Circuit Court will recognize and approve your DIY property settlement agreement, before you invest so much as a dime.
You Can Save a Lot of Money
Done right, a DIY separation agreement, combined with a quick scrutiny by a family law attorney (see a little below) can definitely save you and your spouse money.
If done correctly, if all the little details are attended to, your property settlement agreement will take less attorney time, less court time, and less of your income than going through two attorneys and months of legal wrangling.
In return for a lower cost, your “sweat equity” is higher. You are responsible for attending to all those details. You are responsible for getting all the numbers correct. You bear the responsibility to ensure your online document is done right.
It’s Up to You to Error Check
Many Virginia adults openly speak of their discomfort with math. We have all had that deer-in-headlights look when asked to figure 5.3 percent of $127.00 so you have enough cash at the ABC store.
Go through your DIY property settlement agreement and check all your figures before you take the document for anyone’s signature, for an attorney’s review, or to turn into the Circuit Court.
You need to do more than check the math, though:
- Double-check your account numbers, bank routing numbers, and balances on all financial accounts
- Children’s birthdates, wedding date, and date of separation
- Make certain you have not overlooked real estate, military retirement accounts, inheritances, royalties, and valuable collections you and your spouse may have
(It’s $6.60. Sales tax, 5.3 percent of $127. It’s $6.60. We checked).
They Cannot Cover Every Possible Situation
An online, customizable program is wonderful. It speeds you through the separation agreement, gets you on your way to an eventual divorce with a minimum of fuss and money, and helps both you and your spouse get on with your lives.
Except it cannot possibly cover every contingency. It is streamlined by working through the most common, most often used aspects of separation:
- Spousal support
- A small business
- Child custody and child support
- Property division
- Parenting time schedules
If you have a complex relationship with multiple incomes, numerous vacation homes or investment properties, or a blended marriage with adopted, foster, or stepchildren, you probably would do well to have a family law attorney look over the do it yourself separation agreement and make needed adjustments.
Another Set of Eyes is Invaluable
A reason why family law attorneys make the money they do is because their work is important, precise, and hard to undo. Once those weighty pages are crafted through a do it yourself program online, that property settlement agreement could benefit from a second opinion.
You will pay far less to have a family law attorney give a once-over to an existing document than you would to have the attorney craft it from scratch. This is true whether you create the DIY separation agreement or your spouse does. If you have a doubt, let a lawyer check it out.
We Can’t Make Your Wife Sign!
No matter how perfectly suited the online separation agreement is for your needs, if it does not fit your spouse’s needs, she may not sign it. No legal force can compel her to sign it, and, indeed, any contract signed under duress is legally void.
That means you and she must work together to get through the process with accuracy, fairness, and speed. Be willing to give a little for what you get.
Yes, They Are Legally Binding
A Virginia DIY separation agreement that is custom-made for your circumstances is legally binding once you and your spouse sign it. It has the full force and weight of a much more expensive document crafted in the offices of a family law attorney.
That is a double-edged sword: your spouse has to live with the decisions laid down in plain English in the document. So do you. So do you. Make absolutely certain you have everything the way you want it!
Visit MyDIYDivorce.com today to get started on your do it yourself separation agreement. It’s exclusive to Virginia, tailored to fit your needs, and it can save you time, money and heartache.