Ask An Attorney: Online Legal Advice At Your Fingertips

Whether you are pre- or post-divorce, there always seems to be some legal question you need advice on. However, most people do not have the funds available to pay an attorney when they need to seek legal counsel.

Well, welcome to AVVO, (pronounced Ah · voh) the online attorney resource.

AVVO provides online legal services focused in several key areas:

Lawyer Directory

This service provides a massive directory of lawyers in many different categories from estate planning, immigration, real estate to employment and labor.

Legal Topics

Here you will find articles on all types of legal issues providing some insight on legal questions you may have and which may save you a consultation with an attorney.

Legal Services – Talk to a Lawyer

Time is money, right? The fact that you can call an attorney over the phone, pay a fixed price of $39 per 15-minute session, and get answers to your questions can make the difference to many people. Cutting the time of getting to a law office, waiting in the lobby, and then sometimes paying a huge fee only to walk out with more questions than you had when you arrived can make the online experience seem like heaven.

Legal Forms

Need a legal document? Well, you have several to choose from here. You simply pick the legal form you need, customize it to your situation, and click save to then send to get an electronic signature.

Having a quick glimpse of AVVO’s services may lead you to ask, “How do their costs compare to what you would pay to a standard attorney visit”?

The average hourly cost is $250 to talk to a divorce attorney, compared to AVVO who only charges $39 for a fifteen-minute call. Keep in mind, to get the most out of this call, you need to have all your ducks in a row and know exactly what questions you want to ask and the solution you are trying to find. Note that they also answer questions – typically for free – via email.

When the NotTied team tested this feature, we received a response to our question within 6 hours. Not bad, considering this option was at no cost to us. Once you submit your question to their team, you’ll also be able to see similar questions and answers. Their longevity in this space has resulted in a database of more than 10.6 million legal questions and answers! That’s a lot of great info to peruse if you need it.

Avvo is an easy site to navigate and so far one of the best as far as price and options to help you navigate the complicated legal system.

Did You Know? Divorce Laws and Divorce Requirements

Every state, and in some cases counties within each state, have their own set of divorce laws and parameters that define the Divorce Process. There is unique State Guidelines for Divorce that must be met to establish the requirements for residency requirements, determine the grounds for divorce, and other divorce factors that need to be established and satisfied in order to legally file for divorce. This Divorce Glossary may also prove helpful to better understand the verbiage that makes up each state’s unique Divorce Laws.

Residency Requirements: In order to legally file for divorce, one must first meet your state’s residency requirements. Residency requirements vary by state and in some cases by county. Typically, the person filing the divorce papers is required to be a resident of both the state and county in which they are filing for a minimum of three months generally, but this can vary between states, counties, and/or province. There are also considerations based specifically on those who may be in the military. Generally, residency requirements for members of the military are based on mailing address as opposed to where he or she may be stationed. Some states may have a waiting period after the initial filing is served that must be met before the divorce is finalized.

Grounds: Just as states have different residency requirements that must be met before filing for divorce, the grounds on which you file for divorce may vary as well. Be sure you know what your specific location’s requirements are before attempting to file for divorce, as these will determine what requirements must be met to start the divorce process. States typically have two grounds on which to file for divorce, these are referred to as “Fault” or “No-Fault divorce” though terminology may differ from state to state.

The most frequently cited (and sometimes only valid) ground for dissolving a marriage is:

Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.

However, there are a number of other grounds for ending a marriage, but those often require far more evidence and effort for the court to grant the divorce.

Naturally, these reasons are used less frequently than the grounds of irreconcilable differences. If using one of the following grounds to file for divorce, you should consult a divorce lawyer or attorney. Nevertheless, some of the most common of these areas, when they are used, are:

  • Fraud
  • The petitioner’s age at the time of the marriage
  • A prior existing marriage
  • Force
  • Incurable insanity

Be aware that, if citing one of these grounds is your reason to file for divorce, you will need to provide proof of the allegations for the courts to rule in your favor. In these circumstances, a divorce lawyer or divorce attorney should be consulted.

Child Custody: Generally, neither the mother or father of a child under 18 receive higher priority when determining who will take custody of the child. Custody can be determined in a variety of ways based on different circumstances, ranging from individual custody to joint custody, but ultimately, the decision is usually based upon what is going to be in the best interests of the child.

There is a lot to consider when trying to determine just what exactly is in the child’s best interest, though. Some of these which the court feels significant are:

  • Health, safety and the welfare of the child
  • Nature and amount of contact with both parents
  • Ability to provide for the child (not limited to financial support)

The income of each parent is appraised when determining the amount needed for child support, but credit in some circumstances may be issued as well. Usually, this amount is taken from the parent’s wages. Some states, such as Colorado, have detailed formulas and conditions with regards to how this amount is determined and who is going to pay.

Property Distribution: Property distribution can happen in a variety of ways. Most often, the states will try to divide property and assets as evenly as possible between the spouses, with property owned prior to the marriage going back to the owner in most cases. However, there are some exceptions, and sometimes circumstances can greatly impact how this distribution is performed. In some cases, things like inheritances or gifted money are divided among both spouses, regardless of who was the intended recipient, but some states do consider this in the division of property. Property is most often addressed through an equitable distribution policy, but some states use community property distribution.

Spousal Support: Spousal support policy, like all areas of divorce, is determined based upon the parameters set forth by the individual states. Depending on this conditions, spousal support can be dependent on the employability of the spouse, whether or not the other spouse is in a new relationship, whether the spouse is able to maintain the same standard of living on their own as when they were married, and a whole variety of other reasons. Sometimes, states will consider the reason for the divorce with regards to whether or not spousal support will be provided. For instance, some states will not award spousal support if a spouse who committed adultery which resulted in pregnancy, or if that new relationship falls within a certain timeframe.

Venue: Usually, divorce papers can be issued in the county that either the person seeking the divorce resides or where the recipient of the forms resides for three months prior to the beginning of the process. This, yet again, is dependent upon the states and how they specifically deal with divorce.

Mediation: Generally speaking, either the recipient of the divorce forms or the person seeking the divorce can ask for mediation in solving their issues if a divorce is already underway. In some cases, sometimes this is a required step before even proceeding with a divorce. Before starting the process, the individuals divorcing may opt to inform their respective mediators ahead of time so that they can go into the process uncontested. Additionally, mediation is usually the most inexpensive and quick way of handling the divorce, and both parties usually walk away with more than they would have if they had taken the divorce in front of a judge.

We know the legal landscape can be challenging, and sometimes hard to understand. Lean on local resources, too, as your church or local support groups can also be a great resource. Keep in mind that when in doubt, always consult a divorce attorney.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice; please seek the guidance of your attorney for any legal action.