April 27th, 2020
The “Iron Triangle” is a maxim used in project management. The triangle references 3 words; fast, good and cheap. Pick two features. You can not have all three. This maxim holds true for divorce services. After all, most divorce files are projects that need management.
It is key to determine requirements at each stage of a legal proceeding. The problem is that family files are complex. It is difficult to know when to choose cheap and fast; good and cheap; or fast and good.
A quick Google search will give you all the options.
If you type “cheap quick divorce” the search returns mostly paralegals with very low-cost fees for an “uncontested divorce”. Many of the services advertised are delivered by paralegals. Others are automated services. The services provided consist largely of “form filling”. They may come with a guarantee that the forms are “Court Approved”.
Typing “good cheap divorce” in your search engine will yield pretty much the same results as from the “cheap quick divorce” search. The top of the first page of results will have ads for the same paralegals noted above.
Surprisingly, “good fast divorce” does not return results that are significantly different.
What to do
The big selling point from paralegal or automated services is that there are “no lawyer fees”. The difficulty that necessarily follows is that with no legal fees there is no legal advice.
If you do not need legal advice and all that you require is assistance in “filling up” the form then the “cheap quick”, “good cheap”, or “good fast” service may be for you.
If you are a competent reader you could probably just as easily complete your divorce forms for no charge. In Alberta, divorce forms and instructions are free. Simply go to:
and get started.
How do you know if you need legal advice? The problem is that unless you studied family law at a reputable law school, completed a law degree, clerked for a quality family law firm and practiced family law for a number of years you will not know.
Get a written assessment or opinion
A good way to get a handle on what you should do, is to start your divorce journey with some type of assessment. Keep in mind that an accurate assessment should be an unbiased, skilled, evidence-based review that is both credible and defensible. This necessitates that you use the services of a lawyer (unbiased and skilled) and that you provide the best information possible to the lawyer (evidenced-based). This way the lawyer can assess and advise you of your risk, your entitlements and your obligations (to make it credible and defensible).
In order to keep costs as low as possible, gathering the evidence (disclosure) should be completed by you. Do not even call a lawyer until you have all of the disclosure for both parties as set out in a Notice to Disclose (which may be found here):
Organize the information in the same order, using the same reference numbers as found in the Notice to Disclose. If the lawyer has a divorce questionnaire, ask for it and complete it as accurately as you can. You may have questions about safety, the divorce process, division of property, parenting arrangements, child support or spousal support. Make sure you have your questions ready for your lawyer.
If the lawyer refuses to provide you with a solid estimate or written opinion, find another lawyer. A written opinion should take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours work billed at the lawyer’s hourly rate.
Spend your first money on advice, not process. If you spend your money on commencing an action or filing an application without knowing your risk, entitlements and obligations you may spend too much before even knowing what the likely result is. Once you have your legal advice you will know whether you can or should use “Cheap and Quick”, “Good and Cheap”, “Good and Fast” or even free legal services to complete some of the process.