Getting divorced online is a common way for couples to end their marriage. Many companies provide divorce forms online. These websites prepare forms for you based on the information you provide. Some have attorneys or paralegals review the papers. Others are the do-it-yourself type where you fill out the forms yourself.
In each situation, the forms have to be done correctly, or you may have to start again.
Can I file for divorce online?
Some states allow you to file for divorce online. These states have specific requirements for online divorce filing, so check your state’s court site to see whether your state allows e-filing for divorce.
Divorce requirements can vary from county to county, so you may be able to e-file your papers in certain counties but not in others. If you’re unsure if your county and state allow filing a divorce online, call the clerk’s office in your county. Even if you use an attorney for divorce, the attorney may be required to file for divorce online in your state.
Using online companies in uncontested divorces
If you’re filing an uncontested divorce, third-party sites that specialize in filing online divorces can help. Your divorce is uncontested if you and your spouse have settled the major issues such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, division of property, and division of debt.
Online sites for divorce can legally prepare documents for you, and many of the top sites will review the forms. Use of online sites for divorce, however, is not recommended if you and your spouse have a contested divorce where you cannot agree on all major issues.
Contested divorces can be difficult and can require a trial. While you may want to get divorced quickly, you shouldn’t do so where there are unresolved issues between you and your spouse. It’s great to have sites that can prepare a divorce, but you have to live with your divorce agreement that will be difficult to change later on. Using an attorney for a contested divorce is the right thing to do and the only thing that makes sense.
Additionally, you can obtain documents for an online divorce but the document company does not act as your attorney. You may want to have an attorney review your documents, especially if your case involves a lot of property or involves expensive property. In these instances, filing for divorce without an attorney is probably not a good idea.
Getting a divorce online means having an online document company prepare your divorce papers and, if applicable for your state and county, submit them electronically. You also can prepare forms on your state’s court site and submit them through that site. Not all legal document companies will file divorce papers online.
How to get a divorce online
To get a divorce online, you need to do the following:
- Decide if you’re going to use an online document company or your state’s court site. A court website allows you to prepare forms on your computer, but you have to do it yourself. Save your files as a PDF file and make several copies of all documents.
- Make sure your divorce is uncontested and that you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of your divorce. Ensure that custody, child support, visitation, spousal support, division of assets, and division of debt have been settled.
- Include all of the details of your divorce in your divorce papers. Make sure your vital information is included, such as names, addresses, social security numbers, the date and location of your marriage, the names and birthdates of your children, and what property you are dividing. Include the grounds for divorce, such as whether it is a no-fault divorce.
- Fill out all required forms. You can usually find the forms you need on your court’s website, but court sites are tricky. Different forms can be required within states, so make sure you prepare all of the forms you need for an uncontested divorce in your county.
- Check your state’s court site or ask your county clerk how to file your divorce paperwork. Pay any fees required by your county and state. These fees are in addition to fees for document preparation. File the papers online, or take them to your county clerk at the courthouse if you can’t file them online.
- Have your spouse served with the divorce papers, if required. This usually means service by someone more than 18 years old or by using a professional process server. You cannot usually serve the papers yourself. If you’re not sure how to serve papers, use a process server.
- Prepare a divorce agreement that you and your spouse can live with. You may want to use an attorney for this part of the divorce so your agreement can be prepared correctly. This way there is less of a chance you’ll have to make court motions years from now unless there are major changes, such as wanting to move out of state with the children.
- Make sure all necessary supplemental forms are added to your original papers or ask your attorney to complete the papers.
Getting a divorce online can be an easier alternative to a traditional uncontested divorce and can help prevent your divorce from becoming an emotionally painful experience by removing many of the formalities of the court process.