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Can You File For Divorce Online in the US in 2024?

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You have probably come across ads promoting the convenience and affordability of pursuing an online divorce. Understandably, saving time and money sounds excellent when you’re dealing with financial strain and lack of time. But before you take on the advertised convenience, it’s essential to check whether online divorce is even an option for you. More importantly, it’s vital for you to understand the risks of getting an online divorce.

Keep reading to discover whether online divorce is the right choice for you.

Can You Divorce Online in the USA?

Some states in the US do allow you to file for a divorce online. For example, residents of San Diego can file their divorce papers through the Superior Court of San Diego, California. However, the documents must be filed via an approved electronic filing service (EFSP). Texas and Illinois also provide options to file for uncontested divorces online via a state-approved platform known as 1eFile. Filing your divorce papers in New York via the  NYSCEF may also be possible, although this is only available in certain courts and counties.

For most states, online divorce filing is limited to a few counties and localities. Furthermore, without proper legal assistance, you risk agreeing to terms that do not fully protect your interests during the divorce or making mistakes that prolong the divorce process.

What does it mean to file a divorce online?

Filing for divorce online involves completing and submitting divorce paperwork via a digital platform. This process allows you to handle divorce paperwork remotely without visiting a courthouse in person.

You have two main options for filing online. You can do it yourself or seek assistance from an online filing company.

If you do it yourself, you must visit your state’s court website to access the necessary forms and instructions. You will then download the forms and fill them out. Some courts may allow you to submit these forms electronically, but others require you to file the forms in person.

Alternatively, you can opt to use an online filing company. These companies specialize in divorce paperwork and offer services to prepare and file the necessary documents on your behalf.

How to File for Divorce Online

Here’s a simplified guide on how to file for divorce online:

  1. Choose between an online divorce service or your state’s court site for filing.
  2. Ensure you and your spouse agree on all major issues like custody, property allocation, child support, etc.
  3. Have all your personal and identification details and documents ready: names, social security numbers, birthdates, etc. It’s best to have the official records to avoid making mistakes in your application.
  4. Define the grounds for divorce.
  5. Access all the divorce forms your state requires and fill them out as instructed.
  6. File the forms and pay the necessary fee.

When is Filing for a Divorce Online Possible?

While an online divorce feels easier, it’s usually not your best option. Generally, an online divorce works best for uncontested divorces. This is a divorce where you and your spouse agree on every major issue, including:

  • Division of your assets and debts(real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, investments, etc.)
  • Child support(amount and terms of the support)
  • Child custody and visitation(where your child resides, decision-making authority, and schedules.)
  • If applicable, spousal support

In addition, you have to consider whether you can trust your spouse to maintain effective communication and not hide assets. If these two things are not possible, filing for a divorce online is a mistake.

Even an uncontested divorce that seemingly feels easy and amicable can run into complications that force you and your spouse to end up in court. You’ll also need to invest significant time to navigate all the legal jargon. It will also be challenging to keep track of all the deadlines required for your divorce to go through without holdups.

If you decide to file your divorce online, it’s still a good idea to get the help of an attorney. This is especially vital when you’re coming up with your divorce agreement. The attorney’s insights and knowledge of the law can protect you from agreeing to terms that would hurt you (legally and financially) in the future.

When is Filing for a Divorce Online Not a Good Idea?

As mentioned, online divorce is not the best path for everyone. For instance, an online divorce may be impossible since some states and counties do not offer online divorce filing options.

In addition, if your divorce is contested, pursuing an online divorce is not ideal. A contested divorce means you and your spouse disagree on significant issues like custody, support, and property division. You’ll need to go to court for a judge to decide these matters.

This type of divorce can be more time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining than an uncontested divorce. Because of these complexities, contested divorces are generally unsuitable for online divorce filing.

Aside from a contested divorce, here are other situations where an online divorce may be unsuitable:

  • Your spouse is difficult to communicate and cooperate with.
  • You or your spouse live in different countries or frequently move between countries.
  • You are worried about you and your child’s safety.
  • You and your spouse have complicated debts that would be difficult to divide.
  • You and your spouse are citizens of different countries, or if one parent plans to relocate internationally with the children.
  • You have special needs children or complex custody arrangements.
  • You and your spouse own a family business.
  • There are issues of substance abuse.
  • You want favorable terms that protect your interests.

Dangers of Filing a Divorce Without Council

A divorce agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of your divorce. If you agree to the settlement, it would be very difficult to modify the decree later on.

You can modify child support, custody, and spousal support terms. And even then, it might take months or years for a judge to sign the modified divorce decree.

On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to modify property division and debt allocation terms once you agree to them. Unfortunately, without an attorney, you may fall into the trap of agreeing to terms that do not fully protect your interests.

Having a divorce attorney by your side ensures you get the best terms for significant issues like child custody, property division, debt allocation, and child support. Your attorney will also be able to help you navigate dealing with a difficult spouse.

Online divorce is undoubtedly convenient. However, filing for a divorce online will not address the complexities of your case or provide the much-needed legal advice to protect your best interest. Seeking assistance from an attorney is often the most viable option to ensure a fair and legally sound outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions on Online Divorces in the US

What happens after you file for divorce online?

After filing online, your documents will be reviewed, processed, and filed with the appropriate court. That said, you may need to follow up with additional steps or attend court hearings, depending on your state.

Where to file for divorce online?

You can file for divorce through online document preparation services or your state’s court website. However, this option is only available in a few counties.

Are online divorces legitimate?

Online divorces can be legitimate if conducted through reputable platforms or official court websites. However, the best option is to work with a certified lawyer to ensure everything is acceptable and legal.

Get Reliable Legal Advice that Protects Your Best Interests

We understand your concerns about the costs associated with filing for a divorce. However, having a legal partner by your side can actually save you more money in the long run.

When you have expert legal advice from the start, you will avoid potential pitfalls and ensure that your settlement is legally sound. This proactive approach will prevent costly mistakes and the stress and complicated process of modifying the settlement later on.

Schedule a consultation today to learn how we can help you secure a more favorable outcome in your divorce proceedings.

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