Online divorce service charges Knoxville woman $500 for unusable

Online divorce service charges Knoxville woman $500 for unusable court documents

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A clerk with the 4th Circuit Court told Dorothy Adkins her divorce papers were not accepted by the court. A clerk with the 4th Circuit Court told Dorothy Adkins her divorce papers were not accepted by the court.
"I was looking for a divorce, something fast, reasonable and cheap," Adkins said. "I was looking for a divorce, something fast, reasonable and cheap," Adkins said.
"We prefer a form approved by the Supreme Court," clerk Joy McCroskey said 6 On Your Side. "We prefer a form approved by the Supreme Court," clerk Joy McCroskey said 6 On Your Side.
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By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Roughly 50% of first marriages in America today end in divorce.

Filing for divorce can be complicated and expensive, especially if it's a contested case.

But an uncontested or simple divorce - where there are no children involved, no property to split, and both parties agree to all terms - is different.

A Knoxville woman paid a company more than $500 to help her handle a simple divorce.

Hiring a lawyer is likely the smart thing to do, but legal fees scare people away, so some go online looking for a service that handles uncontested divorces.

That's what Dorothy Adkins did and now regrets doing it.

After 11 years of marriage, Dorothy Adkins decided to call it quits.  

It was her second marriage. She and her husband had neither kids nor a house and few things of real value so they decided on an uncontested divorce.

She went online and found a company called Cheap & Fast Divorce.

"I was looking for a divorce, something fast, reasonable and cheap," Adkins said.

The company's website claims it provides a fast, "low-cost guaranteed" legal way to obtain a divorce for those on a limited budget.

"They asked me to pay a fee up front. They would send me papers to go to the circuit court," she said.

Adkins was told Cheap & Fast Divorce did not employ attorneys, but would provide her with appropriate papers to successfully get a divorce.

In two installments, she paid the company a total of $519.

With the papers filled out that were sent to her by Cheap & Fast Divorce, Adkins went to the 4th Circuit Court, known as family court, at Knoxville's City-County Building.

"Once I took them to the court, I explained to the lady that I had received them from an email from a place I found online. They told me they cannot accept the papers," Adkins said.

She was told it was likely the judge would reject the papers she submitted, that the forms given to her were not the right ones.

The company's instructions say if the paperwork is rejected, to contact the company.

"I called them and explained the court would not accept these papers," she said.

With their instructions, Adkins then faxed her papers to Cheap & Fast Divorce and has verification the papers were received.

"I faxed them three times. They said they never received the papers," Adkins said.

"We prefer a form approved by the Supreme Court," clerk Joy McCroskey said 6 On Your Side.

Documents for a simple divorce are available, free, she said, from the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts website.

McCroskey showed 6 On Your Side papers Adkins was given by her office. They consist of several simple forms.

The forms must be notarized and filed and it then goes before the judge. The forms are simple enough for applicants to do by themselves.

Back at Adkins' home, she called Cheap & Fast Divorce and asked about a refund. She believes she is eligible.

"Because you said the service was guaranteed and you have not given me any service," she told a company representative when 6 On Your Side visited.

She was told to fax her papers one more time.

Adkins doesn't think she'll ever get any money back.

According to their website, 90% of the fee Cheap & Fast Divorce charges is for its customer service, while only 10% is charged for the documents it provides to customers.

Adkins is still waiting to see whether she qualifies for any refund. The last time we checked, her fax had finally been received. 


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 6 News at 6:00.

If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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