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What Is an Online Divorce? Explanation and Tips

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Making the decision to get divorced is never easy and requires a lot of thought, emotion, money, and time. If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage amicably, you might want to consider using an online service. Not only can the service make your divorce more affordable, it should also help make the divorce process easier. Here, we take a look at what an online divorce involves and tips for how to get one.

What Is an Online Divorce?

Couples seeking an ‘uncontested divorce‘ may end their marriage online. An uncontested divorce is when the parties agree on divorce-related issues like alimony, custody, child support, and division of property. The proceedings are considered “contested” if a couple can’t agree on every aspect of their divorce, and terminating the marriage online is generally not allowed.

Going online allows couples to avoid having a trial where a judge decides on the terms of their divorce. This way, you have more control over how to settle the end of your marriage. A divorce online simply requires you to fill out the paperwork yourself or hire a service to do it for you.

Are Online Divorces Legal?

Yes! However, divorces are governed by state law and each state has different requirements. For example, you may have to live in a state for a certain period and be separated for a certain amount of time before you’re able to file for divorce. You’ll need to check with your state to see if online divorce is allowed. Keep in mind that each county in a state may also have different rules. This is because some counties may not accept the online paperwork required to finalize your divorce. You can call the county clerk’s office where you live if you aren’t sure about the rules.

How to Get a Divorce Online

First, check to see if terminating your marriage online is allowed in your state and county. If it is, you can fill out the appropriate paperwork and file online using your county court website. Many states have DIY divorce packets that may be helpful if you need guidance but don’t want to use a lawyer or online service.

However, the easiest way to get a divorce online is to use a third-party site that specializes in filing divorce paperwork virtually. These services will prepare your divorce papers and review the documents to make sure everything is correct. The company can also file the paperwork on your behalf.

Generally, there are several steps to take when using an internet divorce service, including:

1. Create an Account

In order to fill out your divorce paperwork, you will need to provide personal information such as your name, date of birth, date of marriage, location of marriage, cause for divorce, detailed financial information, and real and personal property assets. If you and your spouse have minor children, you will also need to enter their information as well as detailed information about custody arrangements, child support, visitation, or anything else related to your children.

2. Review and Sign Documents

Once you have provided the necessary information for your divorce, the service provider will generate completed forms for filing. After reviewing that the information is correct, you will need to sign the documents and find out whether they need to be notarized.

3. File Your Divorce Papers

Your service provider will let you know how and where to file. Be sure your paperwork includes a marital settlement agreement, a document the service should generate for you and that you and your spouse will need to sign. This agreement, also known as a “divorce settlement agreement,” will detail the division of ‘marital property,’ spousal support (alimony), issues related to minor children if necessary, and whether a spouse wants to revert to their pre-married name.

4. Serve Your Spouse with Divorce Papers

Most states require one spouse to file the paperwork and ‘serve‘ it on the other. Service rules differ state-by-state; however, a common requirement is that you can’t serve papers yourself and whoever serves the papers must be at least 18.

5. Wait for Divorce to be Finalized by Court

Your divorce could take up to a year to be finalized. There are several factors that determine how long you will have to wait. Some states require waiting periods before a judge can look over the divorce paperwork. The amount of assets you have and whether you have children can also lengthen the divorce process. The good news is that an uncontested divorce will be faster than a contested one.

Benefits of Online Divorce

Some of the benefits of getting an uncontested, internet divorce are:

  • Faster than a traditional divorce. While finalizing the divorce may still take some time, you could potentially file for your divorce a few days after completing the paperwork
  • Saves money. Since you don’t need to hire a lawyer to file for divorce online, you’ll save money by not having to pay attorney fees.
  • Simplifies the process. You won’t have to go back and forth between lawyers or worry about a trial if you’re completing the paperwork yourself or using a service.

Risks of Online Divorce

Although getting a divorce online is easy, it does present some risks:

  • You are responsible for everything. Without using a lawyer, you will be responsible for correctly filling out all paperwork, following the court rules and laws where you live, and ensuring that you file the paperwork correctly
  • Not appealable. Since your divorce is uncontested, that means you have already agreed to terms with your spouse and courts will not allow you to appeal your divorce
  • May still wind up in court. If there is a mistake with your paperwork, or you or your spouse have a significant change in circumstances, your divorce decree may need to be modified by a judge

Who Should Not Use the Online Method?

There are situations where it’s likely not in your best interest to dissolve your marriage online, despite the convenience. You may need to go the traditional divorce route if:

  • You and your spouse don’t agree on all the divorce terms
  • You or your spouse has a business that you want to keep separate from your divorce
  • You or your spouse has a lot of property
  • Complex finances are involved
  • Your spouse doesn’t want a divorce
  • There is spousal abuse or domestic violence (physical, mental, or emotional abuse, financial abuse, or child abuse)

How Much Does an Online Divorce Cost?

Since a contested divorce involves the court system, lawyers, and more time, they are more expensive and can wind up costing thousands of dollars.

Luckily, the average uncontested divorce online is much cheaper than a contested one. It will generally cost between $200 and $2,500. This amount normally covers the filing fee that varies by state, the fee for an online service if you use one, mediation if necessary, and limited attorney’s fees if you use one. To save money, you could split the cost with your spouse.

Ready to Get Started?

If you think that getting divorced on the internet is right for you, consider using a service to help make things easier. Find out more and start your online divorce here.

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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