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6 Best Online Divorce Tips in Los Angeles

6 Best Online Divorce Tips in Los Angeles
February 7, 2018 Peter O'Hanlon

6 Best Online Divorce Tips in Los Angeles, California – How to File for Divorce Near Los Angeles

Why should you consider, or even read, my 6 best online divorce tips to get an online divorce in Los Angeles, California?

Because I’ve been on the front lines of California divorce since 1981. In fact, I’ve been hired to handle a California divorce an AVERAGE of 4 times EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY since June 1, 1981.

I’ve been a barrister (the more qualified branch of the UK legal profession) in the UK since July 29, 1976. I got my law degree Magna Cum Laude at age 20. I passed the UK Bar Exam, generally regarded as the toughest in the world, on the first attempt, with specialization in family law and tax. I was called to the Bar of England and Wales at age 21, the youngest possible age.  I practiced criminal law in the UK in the late 70’s and later private international business law in California in the 90’s.

I own and operate 1-800-DIVORCE, the continent-wide network of independent divorce attorneys and family law firms.  I wrote the world’s first complete Filing for Divorce in California | Los Angeles Online Divorcedivorce software package (for California divorce) in 1983-84.  In a joint venture, I put up the world’s first fully functioning online divorce website at divorceweb.com in March 1999. From 1981 to 2001, I owned and operated California Legal Assistance Centers, which pioneered divorce by mail in California in the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve been the founder and CEO of NetDivorce, LLC since 1999. I founded the Online Divorce Association of America in September 2016. See the ODAA website.

In January 2017, I created Online Divorce PRO, a web-based set of marketing, branding, document preparation and case tracking tools, developed to assist California divorce attorneys to fight back and recover the vast amount of divorce business being taken from them by unqualified, often fraudulent, unaccountable and almost completely incompetent online divorce mills located out of state or in India.

When it comes to California divorce, I know what I’m talking about.  I will not waste your time. Read on.

Here are my 6 best tips on how to get an online divorce in Los Angeles, California:

1. Don’t Use Online Divorce if You Have a Contested, Complex or High-Value Case:

If your California divorce is one of these, do NOT attempt to get an online divorce in Los Angeles, California. Instead, beg, borrow or steal enough money to hire the best California divorce attorney you can afford. In fact, you should hire a Certified Family Law Specialist for such cases. 1-800-DIVORCE and here at Online Divorce PRO are two good places to begin your search.

A contested California divorce is simply one in which your spouse/partner has contested, or will contest, the case on one or more issues. This happens in a small but consistent number of California divorces. These cases are headed for mediation and/or trial.  You need a lawyer.

A complex case is one in which there are complex legal factors regarding issues like an ongoing family business, tax problems,  trust problems (means a legal trust, not whether you trust each other), a special needs minor child of the marriage (who perhaps will need lifetime support) or any highly emotional dispute such as those regarding child custody or parenting.

There is no hard and fast rule on what is a high-value divorce case in California. I would say that if your net marital estate is above $5M, you’ve definitely got a high-value case.  I’ve handled several $10+M net marital estates without any difficulty for NetDivorce’s flat fee of $129 (spouses completely in agreement), but a marital estate of that size makes everyone nervous no matter what. If you’re nervous about the value of the assets being divided, you’ve got a high-value case, regardless of the actual value of the marital estate.

If you think that your California divorce is contested, complex or high value, it is. You need a California Certified Family Law Specialist. I realize this is likely to be unwelcome advice, but I assure you that it is good advice. You will not regret following this advice.

2. If You Have an Uncontested California Divorce That is NOT Complex or High Value, Get an Online divorce:

It’s a wise choice. There are large savings to be had from getting an online divorce. Wicked-cool software crunches the repetitive and very complex paperwork tasks lawyers used to charge $2500-$5000 to handle – even in an uncontested divorce. Online interviews empower the client and enable more accurate data to be entered by you from the comfort of your home or office. Case tracking software saves time and improves the overall work product. Many other standard features such as simple email and live chat reduce time, costs and stress for the California divorce consumer in Los Angeles.

How to File for Divorce Near Los AngelesThe uncontested divorce alternatives to divorce online in California are basically what I call Main Street paralegals or online divorce lawyers like you can find at the Online Divorce PRO website. Online Divorce PRO is new.  It’s a way for California divorce attorneys to fight back against online divorce mills using their own slick websites, software, and unbundled service offerings so that you only pay for the lawyer where you need the lawyer. Online Divorce PRO will usually (not always) carry a slightly higher cost than MOST non-lawyer online divorce providers, but also provides the distinct and valuable advantage that you have a locally licensed attorney on your team.

Online Divorce PRO is the ideal way to go if you want the best of both worlds: the convenience and cost-savings of divorce online PLUS the safety, security, and insurance of a local lawyer on your team.

The main problem with Main Street Legal Document Assistants (basically old-fashioned paralegals who never figured out that it was better to be online) is that they are over-priced. As the dinosaurs of the divorce industry, they are generally well-experienced and do good work. If face-time is necessary for you, then a Main Street Legal Document Assistant COULD be the way to go. Go to the California Association of Legal Document Assistants’ website, click on Find an LDA and plug in your home zip code to see who is available in your area.

Just remember that you’ll pay heavily for that face-time – most uncontested California divorces done by Main Street paralegals will be in the range of $600-$1200, almost as much as traditional lawyer representation, and more than unbundled lawyer services like Online Divorce PRO, which will also offer face-time. The Main Street paralegal option doesn’t make much sense anymore.

While online divorce is wise in an uncontested case, the main danger inherent in divorce online is the high risk of getting screwed in some legal or financial way by the high levels of fraud and incompetence in the completely unregulated divorce online industry.  More on this below.

Filing for Divorce in California | Los Angeles Online Divorce

3. Don’t Fall Into the DIY Trap:

Don’t download blank divorce forms online from the California Judicial Council website, or from anywhere else – even if they tell you that instructions are included. Forget it. There are no magic customized instructions – except at NetDivorce or other honest, competent divorce online providers such as completecase.com, 3stepdivorce.com or divorcewriter.com. Every divorce case is different. There are just too many potential differences between cases. If there were magic instructions that covered all cases, they would be hundreds of pages long. You wouldn’t read them. Only competent divorce online providers can customize their written instructions to your case and make them readable and helpful to your individual case in Los Angeles County.

Doing your own divorce in Los Angeles County used to be much easier and was possible for many people pre-Internet. When I opened California Legal Assistance Centers in RiversideFiling for Divorce in California | Los Angeles Online Divorce on June 1, 1981, you could pick up free forms from the court and get an uncontested California divorce, even with minor children, on maybe a dozen documents totaling 20-25 sheets of paper. Now, it would take about 35-40 separate state and county multi-page documents on perhaps 120-150 sheets of paper to get the same divorce.

Every single divorce document has at least one difficult section you will not understand.  Most have multiple difficult sections. California divorce documents are not intuitive, and court clerks are not there to help. In fact, they have fun not helping you. In many instances, you will not even understand what the document is requesting, let alone how to answer.

All California Judicial Council divorce documents are drafted by California lawyers to confuse you so that you hire a California divorce lawyer. By all means, download California divorce forms from the Judicial Council and/or your local court.  Look at them and familiarize yourself with them. But don’t go it alone.  You will screw it up, and it will cost much more to fix than it would have cost for you to hire an expert in the first place.  Going it alone in California divorce these days is a false economy, particularly when divorce online is so cheap – if you can avoid the fraud and incompetence. Read on.

4. Rely on Legitimate Client Testimonials:

Nielsen’s September 2013 study on Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages reveals that in North America, consumers trust (82%) “Recommendations from people I know,” and trust (68%) “Consumer opinions posted online.”

Definitely listen to the advice of trusted friends and relatives about their experiences in obtaining a divorce, particularly a Los Angeles County divorce.

However, the online testimonials of people you don’t know are also valuable as there will be many more of them and they will pertain to the individual divorce online provider you’re considering hiring. These are the experiences of other people who were in the exact same situation you are in right now. They made a hiring decision, and they are now telling you about the consequences of that decision.  That is valuable information for you in your Los Angeles divorce.

Read client testimonials onsite carefully.  Determine if they are certified by a legitimate third party company that is in the business of verifying testimonials across all How to File for Divorce Near Los Angelesonline industries, not just the divorce online industry. Click through to read testimonials on that third-party company’s website.

Read a few testimonials to see if they sound the same. They should not.  If they do, the divorce online provider may be providing a pre-scripted format for the client to complete.  That’s not an honest legitimate client testimonial.

If the testimonials say things like, “So far so good” or “I’ve only just hired them but all seems to be good,” ignore those testimonials.  In fact, ignore the divorce online provider that has such testimonials. They mean that the divorce online provider has demanded a testimonial right after they’ve been hired and before the client has even had a chance to determine the value of the service being provided.

Divorce online providers who attack their clients for a testimonial right after they’ve been hired are essentially saying to the client, “Give us a good testimonial before you really know us or we’ll screw up your case.” At least, that is what the reasonable client will think. Those are not honest or legitimate testimonials because they are not voluntary and because they are demanded at a time when the client doesn’t have a full picture of the service being provided. The client thinks, “Heck, I’d better give them a good testimonial or they may screw up my case.”

Trust your gut here.  If you read a few testimonials and get bad vibes about them, walk away. There is probably something wrong.

5. Look for Client Testimonial Fraud Using This Simple Trick:

Client testimonials are valuable to you, the Los Angeles County divorce consumer. But only if they are legitimate. Bogus client testimonials by fake divorce-testimonial sites are a huge source of fraud in the divorce online industry.

An example will be good to demo this trick.  One of the big aggressive players in California divorce online is mydivorcepapers.com. They are highly active in every slick practice I’m aware of. Their site claims that they use a company called Certified Comments as their client testimonial certifier.

Go to big Google and enter into the search bar “site:certifiedcomments.com” – (without the quotation marks) – just copy and paste everything between those quotation marks into the Google search bar and click on Search.

The site command in Google will provide an approximate (it’s not 100% accurate) listing of all web pages on the specified website that are indexed in the Google search engine.

Look at the search results for site:certifiedcomments.com. At the top of the search engine results page, it will say something like, “About 140 results.” But when you scroll down, you will find that since the website was put up in June 2014 there are in fact only a total of 13 pages indexed from the entire certifiedcomments.com website.

Scan those and you will see that 6 of those 13 pages relate only to the site certifiedcomments.com. They are the top page, the login page, the contact form page, etc. An Filing for Divorce in California | Los Angeles Online Divorceadditional 6 pages relate to mydivorcepapers.com and 1 page relates to idivorceforms.com, a sister website of mydivorcepapers.com that is owned and controlled by the same people.

So Certified Comments has been online since June 2014.  It urges online companies to, “Show your customers that you are real and that each of your testimonials has been validated by a third party as being 100% real.”

The “service” provided by Certified Comments is not just available to California divorce online companies.  It is available to all online companies worldwide, though ridiculously, only by invitation. You can request an invitation. I’ve done it 3 times and amazingly, have never heard back. I couldn’t call or contact Certified Comments because they list no phone number or address. And their domain registration is a privacy proxy. In fact, by pure coincidence, their proxy registration just happens to be the exact same one used by mydivorcepapers.com and idivorceforms.com. What a surprise.

So that means that after almost 4 years (at this writing) certifiedcomments.com allegedly has invited only 2 customers: mydivorcepapers.com and idivorceforms.com.

Now do the site command on a real testimonial review company, Trust Pilot. Enter “site:trustpilot.com” into your Google search bar.  You will see, “About 494,000 results.”  Trust Pilot has almost half a million indexed pages and you have to go down to the third page of search results to begin to see just the business categories of their clients. Click on any business category and you will see dozens (sometimes hundreds) of online companies in each category that have signed up for Trust Pilot’s actual real testimonial verification service.

So what does all that mean?  It means that certifiedcomments.com is a bogus company owned or controlled by mydivorcepapers.com.  It’s a complete fraud. Mydivorcepapers.com has written its own 5000+ testimonials on certifiedcomments.com to try to make you think that mydivorcepapers.com is an excellent California divorce online company that knows what it is doing, has thousands of satisfied clients and doesn’t have 84 Better Business Bureau complaints filed in the last year and a 100% negative review rating.

6. Make a Connection With Your Online Divorce Provider:

In a research world dominated by the clinical impersonal Internet, call your short list of divorce online providers on the phone.

Firstly, see if anyone answers the phone during business hours. If there is no answer the first time, call a couple more times at different times during the business day. What you experience now in terms of responsiveness will be what you get later. And if there’s a different phone number for existing clients, you’ll get worse service on that number later on than on the number called by potential clients.

How to File for Divorce Near Los AngelesSecondly, if you get a live person on the phone, see if that person is an employee of the divorce online provider or a call-center employee in India. Ask a question or two about your case to see if the person is comfortable talking about and displaying his or her knowledge about divorce.  It will be easy to tell.  You don’t have to be an expert in divorce yourself to determine if the person you’re talking to is an expert.

BTW, don’t give them your phone number or email address. Some divorce online providers will bombard you with messages. Just tell them you’ll call back if there’s no one available.

Thirdly, follow up. Call again and ask another question or three.  Tell them that you’ve called before and tell them you have more questions. See if they react adversely on the basis that you might be a “problem” client.

Trust your gut on this. If you sense any resistance or resentment because you’re asking questions, walk away. At NetDivorce, our proprietary software is so bullet-proof and our other online help and client support systems are so darn good (after 36+ years) that ALL we do ALL day and EVERY day is to answer client questions. But we hear horror stories (a lot of them are in BBB complaints) about other divorce online providers promising personal case workers or case managers, but the client never actually speaks to that person. They are often told that their caseworker will call back in 3 or 5 days. That doesn’t work in divorce.

Conclusion:

To recap the 6 best tips to get an online divorce in Los Angeles California, if you have an uncontested case, get an online divorce in Los Angeles California. Get that divorce online from the comfort of your home or office from an online divorce provider by relying on their legitimate client testimonials. Run a gut-check on those testimonials and use the “site:” trick to determine if they are using a legitimate testimonial verifier. Make a connection with your short list of divorce online providers by actually calling them on the phone before you hire anyone.

Thanks for reading and I hope that this has been instructive and helpful.

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