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A: I’ve seen many signs & Ads posted throughout the Bronx, Yonkers, New Rochelle & Mount Vernon advertising to do divorces for “$299” or “$399.” Many such ads strongly imply you’re hiring an attorney or that they’re just as good as attorneys – guess again.
I just saw one such Ad claiming to “do all the paperwork for $299.” Let’s call them “Joe’s Professional Services.” Here’s the problem I’ve found: they are basically a typing service, and cannot give people legal advice. Thus, when people walk into their office & put down $299, they give them the same forms people can obtain for free off the internet (as if they’ve done something at this point for the money), tell the people to “fill them out as best they can on their own,” give them a pen while they sit in their waiting area doing their work for them, and when the people are done, they spent 5-10 minutes typing the forms for them. When they’re done, they hand the forms back to the people & tell them, “Ok, good luck, go file these forms with the Court & wait 6 months. Have a good day!” And if the Court rejects the forms because there are errors on them, they either refuse to correct the mistakes – or tell the people that to correct them will cost another $299 (or $399). What a rip-off!
I had a “paralegal” come into my office to apply for a job who claimed at her experience having worked at one of these “Document Service Companies.” She listed on her resume that she was a paralegal. I asked, “Ok, where did you earn your Paralegal Studies Degree or obtain your Certification?” She replied, “Oh, I’m not really a paralegal, I just call myself that.” Unbelievable! Yet unsuspecting clients of these companies don’t know better than to ask, especially when they imply in their name that they are “Professionals.” I’ll give you an example of why you’re paying more with these services: in the Bronx, I currently charge $250 to review paperwork for potential clients. I’ll also provide the forms for the people (since they’re free anyway). If they wish to fill out the paperwork on their own, I can then review it with them & suggest corrections for less money than the Document Service Companies charge to type the forms. Then if the person needs the forms typed, they can simply take the forms to an Office Store (like FedEx Office) & have them type the forms, probably for $50 or less. Thus, the person has paid as much or less to have the forms typed and reviewed by an Attorney than they would spend to have the forms done by a Document Service Company – and with much less potential for mistakes. There’s an old adage I’m fond of: “The Poor Pay More for Less!” This is likely true if one goes to a Document Service Company for one’s Uncontested Divorce.