Beware of the “Free” in Free Online Divorce Forms

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Ed West of online divorce forms preparer NetDivorce warns new uncontested divorce consumers not to fall into the “free divorce papers” trap. This deceptive offer is becoming more common in the burgeoning online divorce industry. The price consumers could pay if they fall into this trap is the effective loss of their own choice of whom they hire to handle their divorce cases.

Online Divorce in California for $99

California Divorce Papers Prepared for $99

"...merely downloading free blank forms from a commercial website will never get your divorce case prepared and filed. No amount of accompanying non-personalized case-insensitive instruction can tell you how to prepare and file your individual case."

The offer of “free divorce forms” is becoming a popular deception in the online divorce forms industry. A November 2012 Google search on “divorce forms” resulted in free forms being offered in 6 of the 11 paid results on the top page. It is both an enticing and cruel offer to those who are seeking to keep down the cost of their uncontested divorces.

Yet the offer of “free” downloaded divorce forms does not mean that those divorce papers are completed with the consumer’s personal information - all ready to be filed at court. In fact, the “free” offer extends to blank forms only.

So why isn’t free good even if the forms are blank? NetDivorce’s Ed West responds, “First, all divorce forms are downloadable free from state judicial sites, Superior or Circuit Court websites or Legal Aid Society sites without the requirement to provide your name and email address. That type of download really is free. Second, merely downloading free blank forms from a commercial website will never get your divorce case prepared and filed. No amount of accompanying non-personalized case-insensitive instruction can tell you how to prepare and file your individual case. Finally, if you get more confused by the free blank forms, which you almost certainly will, your natural tendency will be to contact the outfit that gave them to you.”

West, who works at leading California online divorce site, states that some of the sites offering free forms will then step in to offer their own divorce forms preparation service, usually at high cost. Many consumers will jump at the chance to resolve their confusion, thereby depriving themselves of their own considered choice about who to hire.

However, West says that most “free” forms sites are actually fronts for their subscribing lawyers. Why do you think that ‘free’ shows up so much in the paid search results? These sites will have sold the unsuspecting divorce consumer’s zip code to one or more lawyers. The next lawyer in line gets that confused consumer.

Further, while lawyers are not permitted to solicit a consumer’s divorce business directly, the front sites are not lawyers and can bombard the consumer’s inbox until the consumer’s almost inevitable confusion springs the trap and the trickery of the front site is rewarded.

West points out that this trap is not criminal fraud. “They offer free forms and consumers get free forms. But the offer is deceptive to the extent that the sites know consumers will think that they can complete the blank forms correctly, using the promised instructions, and get them filed.” That is very unlikely in West’s opinion. The provided instructions are always thin and too vague to assist.

West wraps up his argument with an analogy, “If a surgeon gave you a free scalpel, would you perform your own surgery? Of course not. Just because you have the scalpel doesn’t mean you know how to use it or that you could perform surgery on yourself. That is the reality the free divorce form scammers rely on. They know you’ll be back, and they’ll be ready to ‘rescue’ you. The sales psychology is strong in their favor when there has already been interaction between the site and the consumer.”

NetDivorce has announced that it will never use the “free divorce forms” trap, or any other deception, to trick new divorce consumers into hiring it. Offering something “free” on the implied basis that it has value, when it does not, is dishonest. Instead, what you will get at is a simple interface and an honest, up-front, flat rate of $99 for any California uncontested divorce.

About NetDivorce: NetDivorce prepares California divorce papers online in uncontested divorce cases for $99. Create your secure account. Complete the online interview at your own pace from the comfort of your home or office. Download your divorce papers immediately and print them on your home or office printer. Use customized detailed NetDivorce written instructions to file and complete your uncontested divorce. Control your own case throughout with NetDivorce DokChek, Weekly Updates, Knowledge Base, context-sensitive help systems and Client Support.

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