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How to File Divorce Papers Online: A Legal Guide

An older woman looks relieved as she files her divorce papers online.

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There's no doubt that divorce can be a difficult, time-consuming process. As a result, many spouses opt for an 'uncontested divorce,' where you and your spouse agree on all the important terms and file online divorce papers.

Once you've decided to file a DIY divorce, you'll need to find the necessary divorce papers online so that the court can issue a final decree to end the marriage. Here, you will also learn about third-party online divorce services and how to determine whether they're right for you.

Where Can You Find DIY Divorce Papers Online?

Finding the divorce papers you need online is a fairly straightforward task once you know where to look. Other than asking an attorney to help you get the proper paperwork, there are three places where you can typically find the correct forms:

  • State and local courthouse websites
  • Online divorce websites
  • Local family law clinics

State and Local Court Websites

You may find free divorce paperwork from official state and local court websites, but it's important to ensure that you select the proper forms, as each state and county has specific requirements for filing. For example, if you’re filing for an uncontested divorce in New York, the process will be different (and will require different forms and applications) for couples that have minor children versus those who do not.

Online Divorce Websites

You can get divorce papers online through an online divorce service that prepares and completes your paperwork for you. These services will guide you through a questionnaire, similar to an online tax service, to draft the forms for you. It is a fast, cheap, and easy alternative to trying to find the papers on your own.

Local Family Law Clinics

You can also find your divorce paperwork free through a local family law clinic. This is a service set up to help you get through the process of a divorce in an efficient manner. Law clinics are typically established as a community outreach support for individuals facing the challenges of divorce on their own.

How Do You File DIY Divorce Papers?

If you've completed your divorce papers and are ready to file them with the court, ensure that you:

  • Determine the right court for filing your paperwork
  • Determine whether you can electronically file your paperwork
  • Draft a settlement agreement that states the agreed upon terms of the divorce
  • File the remaining documents with the clerk, which can be completed through an online divorce service
  • Have the petition notarized, if required
  • Pay the filing fee
  • Take the stamped copy of the petition and 'serve' it through a third party upon your spouse
  • Appear before the judge on the calendared date so the they can draft the final divorce decree
  • Receive a copy of the final divorce decree from the clerk

Is an Online Divorce Right for You?

Your best option might be online divorce if you and your spouse agree:

  • That divorce is the right decision
  • How to divide your financial assets and debts
  • The amount of spousal support (alimony)and to whom it will be paid (if applicable)
  • Any details of child custody, child support, and visitation

Reasons Not to File Divorce Papers Online

If you feel that you’re close to an uncontested divorce, but that there are a few details that need to be worked on, you might benefit from seeking the help of a 'mediator.' This way, they can guide you to a better resolution and possibly lead you to an uncontested divorce agreement.

You should get help from an attorney if the issues are more complex and you, as a couple, cannot agree to the terms of the divorce. You should receive the help of a mediator or attorney if you and your spouse can't agree on the following details:

  • The decision to divorce
  • Whether the safety of you or your children is at stake
  • How to handle large assets or debts
  • Issues involving minor children, such as child support, custody, and visitation

Think You Might Be Getting an Uncontested Divorce?

If you want to file your divorce papers online soon but need the help of a professional to guide you through the process, speak to an expert today.

Disclaimer

This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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