Online divorces could be no bargain - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Online divorces could be no bargain

May 30, 2003

Albany --The Internet is allowing people to do just about anything online. Even get a divorce. And more and more people are doing it. While it may sound cheap and easy, is it really smart to end your marriage with an Internet company?

 More and more Internet sites that sell do it yourself Divorce kits are coming online. And they are becoming popular in South Georgia. Judge Loring Gray said "I would estimate we see 4 to 6 a week."

Couples connect to a web site, pay between 50 to 300 dollars. They say they provide all the required paperwork. Fill out the forms, file them at the clerks office, and in theory wrap up a marriage.

But attorney Howard Stiller says it may not be such a bargain. "Most people think their divorce situation is simple and uncontested. More often than not, as soon as there is some disagreement, it turns into a contested divorce, and you're going to need a lawyer anyway."

Judge Loring Gray is one of the Superior Court judges who grant divorces in Dougherty County. He warns that a botched divorce can have serious consequences. "You end up with people who think they are divorced, and they get remarried. You could have a death and have two spouses competing for the same estate. Plus if you try to get married again you are committing bigamy."

The numbers of people taking advantage of online divorce sites are growing. But the experts who deal with it daily say watch out. Stiller said "If you are already talking about 300 dollars for a piece of paper that you buy across the Internet, you are getting into the range of uncontested divorce prices to have a lawyer in your hometown do it."

Judge Gray said "I suggest you spend it with a lawyer and have it done right. If it is truly an uncontested divorce, it probably will not cost more than that."

Dougherty County has one of the highest divorce rates by population in the State. So far this year 231 divorce petitions have been filed.

posted at 2:59 by jimw@walb.com