Is an Online Divorce Really Viable?
Navigating divorces can be a daunting journey, marked by high costs, substantial time investment, and overall complexity. The pandemic prompted a shift in divorce court dynamics. It ushered in an era of virtual hearings and streamlined online protocols for submitting petitions and legal documents. This shift revealed how much easier it can be to navigate the divorce process in a virtual realm. In the present day, many couples are using online divorces to end their marriage. While certain online divorce platforms have existed since the early 2000s, their prominence surged in recent years. The surge in online divorces is associated with their compelling advantages: a user-friendly, cost-effective means of initiating divorce proceedings.
This article will delve into the viability of an online divorce option for your circumstances. It will provide an in-depth analysis of its advantages and disadvantages.
What is an Online Divorce?
Sometimes referred to as a DIY Divorce or Do it Yourself Divorce, an online divorce provides a swift and budget-friendly platform to draft your divorce papers while offering basic legal guidance. The typical expense of a divorce in the United States stands at $12,900 when engaging an attorney’s services. Meeting the criteria for an online divorce could potentially be the optimal method. It may help you avoid steep legal costs and the emotional and financial burdens associated with divorce proceedings.
With an abundance of more than one hundred companies offering online divorce services, options range from websites aiding you in independently preparing your divorce forms to platforms that provide attorney-reviewed papers along with limited legal assistance and counsel. The feasibility of an online divorce depends on your specific circumstances and the intricacy of your case.
Am I a Good Candidate for an Online Divorce?
Online divorces are most effective in cases of uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties reach a mutual agreement on all aspects of the divorce. This includes property division, spousal support, custody arrangements, child support, and other important terms.
Alternatively (and it is SAS for Women’s position), online divorces may be the most suitable option for marriages of short duration without children, financial obligations, or shared assets. If you and your spouse can find common ground on pivotal divorce terms, initiating the preliminary stages of your online divorce becomes much simpler.
However, if you and your spouse are at odds concerning the divorce and cannot reach an agreement on the key issues, pursuing an online divorce is not a suitable route for you.
Furthermore, divorces involving substantial assets, intricate property arrangements, instances of spousal abuse, or your spouse’s resistance to the divorce will introduce significant hurdles that will likely make an online divorce impractical and what’s more, risky. It is crucial to evaluate your circumstances and determine whether an online divorce aligns with your story and needs. Setting up an initial consultation with a divorce attorney could provide further clarity. This can help you determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this approach. Many divorce attorneys offer complimentary or affordably priced initial consultations. This could provide you with a unique perspective in your decision-making process. In the end, the decision is entirely yours, and it’s essential that your choice fully caters to your needs.
Advantages of Opting for an Online Divorce
There are a variety of advantages linked to online divorces. They offer cost-effectiveness, time-saving potential, and enhanced clarity throughout the divorce proceedings.
- Cost-Effective Solution
The expense of an online divorce varies based on the platform you select. While entirely free services may be rare, the cost of commencing an online divorce can start as low as $150. In contrast, the average hourly rate for attorneys hovers around $350, highlighting the possibility of significant cost reductions. The affordability of online divorces makes exploring this option a wise step.
- Time-Efficient Approach
Certain online divorce processes require only a few hours to complete the initial questionnaire and preliminary paperwork. This renders all documents ready for filing within a mere two days. Online divorces empower you to manage the paperwork at your own pace. This avoids the need to wait for attorney communication or updates. You won’t have to worry about missing work and dealing with the inconvenience of arranging travel for court appearances and appointments at your lawyer’s office. Online divorces allow you the flexibility to complete your divorce papers on your personal timetable.
- Streamlined Process
Furthermore, online divorces provide a simplified, step-by-step breakdown of the divorce journey. Typically, the process involves creating an account on your chosen platform and completing an initial questionnaire individually or collaboratively with your spouse. The next stage involves additional questionnaires covering your present circumstances and the mutual agreements you’ve reached with your spouse. Ultimately, the platform generates divorce forms tailored to your responses, ready for submission to the court.
Disadvantages of Opting for an Online Divorce
While an online divorce offers an economical and adaptable approach to divorce, certain drawbacks warrant consideration. Online divorces are not suited for contested disputes, and the extent of attorney involvement can vary depending on the platform chosen.
1. Limitations of Online Divorces in Contested Divorce Cases
In scenarios where your spouse resists paying spousal or child support or disputes a shared parenting schedule, having a lawyer might be crucial to ensure your rights are protected.
An online divorce might fall short if agreement remains elusive on specific divorce terms, potentially leaving your interests unheard. Rather than benefiting from the personalized guidance and representation of an attorney, you would be limited to prefabricated forms that might not address your concerns.
Resisting the cost of an attorney shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice your rights. You have options, and mere cost should not dictate the pursuit of an online divorce or the avoidance of seeking professional legal advice.
2. Online divorces don’t always offer professional guidance
While online divorces allow flexibility, be aware that additional state-specific forms or paperwork might be required, obliging you to ensure meticulous compliance with court filing deadlines. Engaging reputable legal services assures timely and accurate filing of all paperwork in adherence to your state’s laws. Seeking a second opinion from a professional well-versed in divorce and family law is advisable.
Prioritize your right to legal representation, especially if you’re confused about the divorce process or your spouse remains unyielding in meeting your needs.
Navigating Online Divorce: Understanding the Process and Making Informed Choices
After weighing the advantages and disadvantages of an online divorce, it’s important to gain a comprehensive understanding of what you may be getting yourself into. First, acquaint yourself with your state’s laws to ensure strict adherence to any deadlines or filing requirements. The timeline for submitting specific documents varies by state, which means it’s essential that you have a clear grasp of any necessary steps to avoid potentially costly errors. If you have access to a family law attorney or can arrange an initial consultation, this avenue provides a reliable means to ensure your online divorce initiation proceeds smoothly.
Given the diverse variety of platforms offering online divorce services, finding the best online divorce services is crucial. Whether your preference leans toward a platform offering the best value for your investment, swift processing, or supplementary legal support, diligent research of your choices and reading customer reviews will provide insight into the platform’s functionality and its potential to assist you effectively.
For more sage advice, read our “55 Must Do’s on Your Modern Divorce Checklist.”
Finally, you need to sit down with your spouse and have a conversation to make sure you are both on the same page. You should gather all relevant financial documentation and engage in a comprehensive conversation with your spouse. Delve into the details of your financial matters and discuss your respective expectations for the divorce outcome. Having this conversation not only guarantees the availability of essential information but also preempts unforeseen issues that might arise in the future.
By meticulously addressing these factors, you can navigate the realm of online divorce more informed and better prepared for the journey ahead.
In conclusion, an online divorce could be the right path for you if your situation aligns with specific criteria. If you and your spouse are in agreement and seek an uncontested divorce, or if your marriage was brief without complexities like children, financial obligations, or shared assets, the option of an online divorce holds promise. This route offers significant benefits, such as cost-effectiveness and flexibility, making it an attractive choice.
However, it’s important to assess your circumstances carefully. If you and your spouse are unable to reach a consensus on essential divorce terms or if your divorce involves intricate financial and emotional aspects, an online divorce might not be the most suitable route. The decision of whether to pursue an online divorce rests entirely on your individual situation. While an online divorce might present cost savings, it’s crucial not to compromise the quality of your life or neglect your needs. It’s wise to explore this avenue by meeting with a family law attorney through an initial consultation. The attorney will provide a realistic perspective on your situation and equip you with a realistic understanding of what lies ahead in your impending divorce. Explore your options, research the process, and follow your intuition.
Teresa is a third-year law student in Chicago committed to advocating and supporting survivors of gender and power-based violence. With a longstanding interest in family law, she aspires to pursue a career in this field after graduation. Her goal is to create a meaningful impact by being a voice for those who may struggle to find their own, providing the necessary support and empowerment they need to navigate the legal system and achieve justice.
Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner with them through the emotional and oftentimes complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you and your precious life. Schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation with SAS now.
*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”