A do-it-yourself divorce might seem like a quick and easy way to end a marriage. The state of North Carolina even provides an online system where residents can file for divorce on their own.
Recently, errors were discovered on some forms in this system that may invalidate dozens of these do-it-yourself divorces.
The defective online forms
Earlier this year, four North Carolina counties instituted an electronic court filing system. Some couples in these counties used the system to file for divorce online by themselves.
Now, these divorces may be invalid due to an error on one of the forms in the electronic filing system. The online form did not have a space for notarization and the document did not state it must be notarized. However, the form needed to be notarized to result in a legal divorce.
Because of the error, additional steps are being taken to ensure the individuals who filed for divorce online using the defective forms are legally divorced.
The dangers of do-it-yourself divorce
While there is no excuse for providing trusting residents with inaccurate forms that give users the impression that they have legally ended their marriage when they have not, this situation also highlights the dangers of a do-it-yourself divorce.
Many states provide forms, either on paper or online, that people can use to file for divorce on their own. Moreover, some companies provide forms and directions online for a do-it-yourself divorce.
A do-it-yourself divorce can seem tempting. Some couples simply want to get their divorce over with quickly. If they already agree on the details of how to divide their assets, care for their children and pay spousal support, why should they go through the hassle of protracted court proceedings? Some couples also see a do-it-yourself divorce as a less-expensive alternative to hiring an attorney.
Still, many couples find attorneys to be an invaluable asset in their divorce. Those trying to file for divorce on their own might not catch issues, either legal or personal, that can significantly impact the outcome of their dissolution. Moreover, divorce laws are more complicated than they seem on their face. When couples are fully informed about their rights and options under the law, they can make sound decisions in their divorce and ensure all paperwork is completed properly.