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What is an Online Divorce?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An online divorce is a slightly deceptive term because in most countries, an actual divorce doesn’t occur by filing paperwork online. However, there are now numerous services that help people fill out divorce paperwork with relative ease that can then be filed with local court systems. Essentially, online divorce refers to the numerous agencies that offer this paperwork help, usually at far less cost than it would be to get a lawyer to help complete and file forms required to obtain a divorce.

Various online divorce sites exist and they are designed for uncontested divorces that are not contentious over the splitting of property or over decisions regarding care of children after the divorce occurs. When a couple mutually decides to divorce and does not take issue with property division or child custody, it may not be necessary to involve lawyers in the process. Instead, one person can visit an online divorce site and fill out all necessary paperwork. Once the forms are completed, usually that person must mail or drop off the documents at a local court. Both members of the couple must sometimes complete forms, or the person receiving the divorce request may have to file acceptance statements or sign documents.

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Since divorce laws differ by state and country, an online divorce site may limit the geographical areas or regions in which it offers this service. Some sites, for instance, might rule out the service in certain US states where divorce laws are extremely complex. This helps these companies guarantee that they will fill out the forms correctly and as required by the state or country. More reputable companies offer money back guarantees if they make errors and others will correct paperwork for no additional charge. It’s important to look for these guarantees so that people don’t pay for services that ultimately don’t work.

Many states and countries have filing fees, which may be due upon filing divorce paperwork. These fees tend to be separate from those charged to get an online divorce. Expect to pay filing fees when filing paperwork with the appropriate courts. This tends to be no different than using a lawyer to file paperwork because lawyers typically add filing fees to the costs of their services.

Experts estimate that filing via an online service costs about one-third to one-half the fees of retaining a lawyer, though sometimes people may be able to get legal services at low or no cost, or on a sliding scale fee if they have low income. This type of divorce can save time, and generally people don’t fill out the actual legal documentation, but instead answer questionnaires that are easy to understand and help the online divorce service fill out the actual paperwork. In some states, an uncontested divorce never even requires a court appearance, and this may be an excellent choice for couples who can divorce amicably.

However, it is important to recall that online divorce is not for every divorcing couple. Those who cannot come to agreements on fair division of assets cannot use this method for divorce. They rely on the services of lawyers or mediators to help settle disputes and might also require a court appearance if some matters remain unresolved. This tends to be costly because of the additional legal fees involved, but may be the only way to obtain a divorce under certain circumstances.

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