First of all, Davis Divorce Law does NOT sell “divorce kits” or DIY (Do-It-Yourself) divorce instructions. I, Michael E. Davis, Attorney At Law, will be your divorce attorney. I will prepare and file all of the required documents with the Court. You, my client, will not have to prepare or file a single document, nor will you have to travel, ever, to my office or the Court. You will “travel” only to your mailbox where you will receive documents and simple instructions (such as where and when to date and sign them) from me. My advertised TOTAL charge is $219.00. That is it. I cover the Court’s filing fee out of the $219.00. The Court’s filing fees are NOT additional.
That last sentence in the paragraph above is extremely important. I know that you may have seen DIY divorce “kits” or instructions online for less than $219.00. In some instances, far less. As should be rather obvious, the Court’s filing fees are NOT included in that $99.00 (or whatever amount is shown) in those ads. Pennsylvania has 67 counties and some charge as much as $400.00 just to file the papers! I know how to avoid those high Court filing fees. I should know. I have been representing clients from all over Pennsylvania since 1980 and have a state-wide A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (of which I have been an Accredited Member for many years). And it does not matter where in Pennsylvania you (or your spouse in cases where you are not here) reside. From the Poconos to Pittsburgh, from Erie to Philly, and everywhere in between, I can take your case and you will not have to travel anywhere.
So, what do you get in a “kit”? Typically, you will receive a few forms for which the seller paid nothing…the forms were just downloaded from the internet. With those forms expect to receive instructions. Those instructions are ALWAYS incomplete! Why? Because those instructions are based upon the STATE rules of procedure and those are not enough to get the job done. Each COUNTY has its OWN rules of procedure and they too must be followed or you will have wasted that $99 and a filing fee of several hundred dollars because the Court’s clerk is not permitted to show you what to do OR – and very importantly – tell you how to fix a mistake. And you will get NO refund from the seller or the Court.
My investigation into those selling such kits revealed that the sellers were seldom lawyers and in the very few instances when they were lawyers, they were not Pennsylvania lawyers. Accordingly, most sellers know nothing about divorce law and the remaining few know nothing about Pennsylvania divorce law.
To be sure, a handful of folks over the years were able to complete DIY divorces, but they are a small fraction of those who try it. Hundreds of those who couldn’t make it work have come to me…and they all regretted the time and money they wasted on the kit. I have encouraged those folks to file reports with the U.S. Postal Service Inspectors. This may result in a refund and, perhaps just as importantly, reduce the number of scammers selling kits that virtually never work and ALL of which end up, with the Court filing fees, costing far more than the $219.00 TOTAL I charge for a divorce handled by an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney.
Summary: Should you pay an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney $219.00 TOTAL or plus or minus $99 for some forms a non-lawyer downloaded for free PLUS several hundred dollars in Court filing fees and hope against hope that you can get it right knowing the clerk cannot help you with problems?