As if folks filing for divorce didn’t have enough crap to deal with already, an old California divorce filing scam has reappeared recently.
Lawyers generally cannot approach and solicit a prospective client directly unless they have had a prior professional relationship with that person.
However, under circumstances that maintain arms-length dealings between lawyers and legal marketing plans, lead generators may contact prospective legal clients directly and refer interested consumers to lawyers who have paid to participate in the lead generation plan. Attorneys often “buy” zip codes in such arrangements. If a particular lawyer is the next one in line in your zip code, you get referred to that lawyer. The lawyer then tries to get you to hire him or her.
A NetDivorce client recently sent us a letter received by snail mail a few days after she had filed her case. Her divorce filing is, of course, a matter of public record. Anyone can go into the court and pull her spouse/partner’s name and her address. The letter was addressed to her husband at her address. It’s a fairly common situation in divorce filings that spouses/partners are still in the same household or at least receiving mail at the same address.
The letter was from a lawyer lead generator. It contained phrases designed to make our client’s husband fear that his case was about to go terribly wrong with his legal interests and rights being violated – UNLESS, of course, he contacted the persuasive people at the lead generator company.
Most people understand that they are free, if they wish, to hire a lawyer or not. So you might wonder what do the lead generators say in their letters to try to scare people into calling them. This particular letter used phrases such as, “A timely response is necessary,” “Failure to file a reply may result in the court making orders affecting….custody of children, spousal/child support and attorney fees…” and “if you fail to respond.”
And then a complete lie, “… we are a neutral party.” They are not a neutral party at all as they have an economic interest in scaring your spouse into contacting them and then getting referred to one of their paying lawyers and thereby screwing up what you thought was your perfectly friendly uncontested divorce. If that happens, you will need a lawyer too.
So be careful right after you have done your California divorce filing. If appropriate, discuss this with your spouse/partner – that he or she may be contacted by lawyers’ agents who are not your friends and have an interest in your case becomes contested and extremely expensive. Make sure your spouse partner/understands that if s/he wants to hire a lawyer, which you hope s/he does not. s/he should interview and select his or her own lawyer and not be tricked or scared into hiring one s/he did not even select.
If you hire NetDivorce to handle your California uncontested divorce, our written instructions provide such warnings to make sure that you are aware of all known scams and potential intrusions into your case by dishonest third parties.