NetDivorce received the following email on 9/2/2016. We receive 4 or 5 similar emails per month. If you are a new divorce consumer, this email illustrates a divorce filing problem you really want to avoid.
“urgent!! I filed a divorce in alameda county CA. my spouse is agreed everything. I did most of document. the judgment is rejected because some forms did not fill out correct. I need you to review all documents and guide me to complete the divorce case. You still charge the flat fee $129. Thanks”
The facts that can be deduced from this are that this person’s case has been filed and that the judgment batch of docs has been rejected back to him or her by the court in Alameda County because some undisclosed docs are incorrect. The person is understandably in an urgent need to have the problem resolved.
We don’t know what that problem is, but we can draw some further deductions from the circumstances. This person’s case is unlikely to have a small problem, like a clerical error, because the court’s Rejection Notice always states what the problem is. If it was a small problem, a person who has made it this far in the divorce process would certainly be able to correct that small problem easily and to re-submit the judgment batch without panicking and contacting anyone else. So this is likely NOT a small problem.
Further circumstantial evidence that this is not a minor problem is that the person has declined to tell us in his or her email exactly what the court has said in its Rejection Notice. That would tell us exactly what the problem is and what the fix would be. The person does not want NetDivorce to know what the problem is until we commit to fixing it for $129 because s/he SUSPECTS that the problem is significant, i.e. more than a $129 fix. So do we.
Unsurprisingly, it is very easy to file a divorce case in California and pay the court its $435 filing fee. Anyone can do it. Courts place very few minor barriers to their receipt of your $435. Then a strange thing happens. The degree of difficulty gets much higher in the next step when (in most cases) you have to get your spouse/partner served with the filed docs and disclosure docs. Suddenly, it’s not easy, and instructions from court clerks, online “feel good” websites and “courthouse lawyer” expert friends become unclear and contradictory.
Then a stranger thing happens. When you are only completely confused, but think that you MIGHT have done the service of process correctly, the degree of difficulty goes into space. The third step in most cases, the Judgment batch of docs, draws together all of the many threads in your case in an extremely specific way (which differs in every county, and sometimes from judge to judge) and asks the judge to approve and sign your proposed court orders. The degree of difficulty in the judgment batch is very similar to shoving butter up a wildcat’s backside in a closet with a hot knife….blindfolded…….with one hand.
Often a judgment rejection will go right back to the “easy” first filing. Sometimes, it wipes out the service of process such that you thought you had already completed 2 or 3 months of the 6-month waiting period, but you haven’t. You’re now back at square on.
As this person’s case is an Alameda County case, where we file 20-30 cases a month, and because we know what the existent and developing problems are in Alameda County judges’ minds, we could make an educated guess as to a short list of 5 or 6 likely problems in this person’s case. None of them are good.
One final deduction we can draw is that this person knows us and our flat fee of $129. See the all-important word, “still” in his or her email. This person visited our website and checked us out before s/he filed. We probably looked good. We usually do! But we didn’t make the sale. We did tell him or her, if s/he cared to look, not to go it alone. There are multiple such warnings on our site. We state specifically that we don’t come into cases that are already filed because the costs of correcting problems are too high. The time and effort is almost always more than we spend on a complete case from beginning to ends to keep that case on track and without problems. We genuinely do not know how much more clear we can make it. We suppose we could have been rude, but who needs that.
So here’s our email response to this unfortunate person:
“Regrettably, our flat $129 fee does not bring us into cases that have already been filed and have existent problems. If you’d hired us for $129 back when you first saw our site, instead of trying to save our fee, we would have made sure that you did not have these problems now. We wish you’d hired us. Your existent problems, whatever they are, will likely cost you more than $129 to resolve. Good luck,”
Is that a cruel response? We hope not. Cruelty was not intended, but we have to deal with the facts, and the person’s current situation is likely harsh and expensive. There is only a small number of ways to do that and to help as much as we can. We also made a referral to an Alameda County “office” paralegal. We suspect the cost of the fix will be in the $300-500 range.
Please don’t go it alone. The system is built by lawyers and it is stacked against you and in favor of them getting hired. The further you get into the process, the much more difficult it gets and the much more likely you are to need a lawyer to resolve problems. Our flat $129 fee is worth it just to avoid critical problems in your case. NetDivorce offers a complete uncontested California divorce solution that avoids divorce filing problems. Don’t be a dime wise and a dollar foolish.