When someone (or some couple) is getting divorced, and has no disputes, the case often is suited for being drafted up by a paralegal service. Divorce paralegal services tend to be low-cost, but are able to complete the divorce paperwork in a professional manner, so it appears to be a good combination.
The problem is, you get what you pay for. Many divorce attorneys (me included) have seen people come in, weeks or months after the divorce is done, with issues that are not properly addressed in their divorce decree. If there are no contested disputes at the time of the divorce, that does not mean that a divorce decree can be entered without addressing potential disputes. For example, if one spouse stays in the home, but delays buying out the other spouse until the house sells or the spouse in the home refinances the mortgage, what happens if there are no good offers to buy and the spouse in the home cannot obtain financing for a new loan?
It is possible that the time and expense of correcting the problem later may be no greater than the time and expense involved in preventing the problem in the first place. But oftentimes, the parties disagree on how to correct the problem, and then both parties incur the cost of hiring attorneys and/or paying for mediation or other dispute resolution processes.
If couples who do not have present disputes want to strike the best balance between cost and benefit, each party is well-served to consult with an attorney, even if they do not retain an attorney to represent them in the divorce. That way, the attorney can draft the stipulated decree, or review a decree drafted on behalf of the other party, and advise the client about how to best address the issues, prevent avoidable disputes, and give some thought to potential future scenarios.
The process of consulting with an attorney is more costly than a paralegal service, but less costly – both in time, expense and hassle – than dealing with procedural problems after the divorce is finalized.