By Alan Freed
A prospective client contacted me recently and, in the course of our conversation, she suggested that she and her husband could be “co-petitioners” in their divorce action. I suggested that she might be mistaken about that but she insisted that she had learned about this from the Internet. She was kind enough to share the site where she had uncovered this bit of legal misinformation and I took a look at it.
I won’t tell you what I found on that site because, since this blog appears on the Internet, someone is sure to quote me as an authority and reprint the incorrect statements of the law. Suffice it to say that a quick glance revealed at least three things on that site that were blatantly contrary to Missouri’s divorce statutes.
Going through a divorce is not so different from dealing with a disease. Once you hear the diagnosis, you are desperate to find out as much information as you can about what to expect. Google (a trusted research source for many), will lead you to all kinds of wisdom, some of it reliable, some, not so much. But, just as you will ultimately want to talk to a doctor about your medical issue and not just rely upon the information you find on “docsontheweb.com” (no, that’s not a real website), when you’re dealing with legal issues, you need to talk to someone who is educated in the law and who can help you understand how courts deal with your particular issues.
While all lawyers attend law school to earn their degrees, those who spend substantial amounts of time practicing in a particular area gain a deep understanding of the laws that govern their area of concentration. If you are dealing with divorce or other family issues, it makes sense to speak to a lawyer with experience in family law to provide you with reliable answers.
So, by all means, feel free to ask Siri about how old Ozzie Smith is or how far the moon is from Earth, but be sure to check her law degree before asking her about how your property should be divided or whether you are likely to receive spousal support.