A divorce happens when both the husband and the wife agree to legally dissolve their marital union. The process favors couples who have reached the point of no return.
Although divorce can absolutely break up a marriage on the rocks, it is not an instant solution to a couple’s struggles. The required proceedings to file and finalize a divorce takes time. Often, there are troubles and tensions that come with it.
So if you’re looking for a quick divorce process, please know that there’s no such thing.
However, the good news is that you may find paralegal firms that offer hassle-free divorce proceedings. Such websites will only require you to fill in the divorce papers and they will handle the filing and processing from there.
These services are easier than the traditional process, wherein you’ll need to file the divorce papers yourself.
Moreover, there are firms that offer an online divorce process in which everything is done through the internet. This service is more convenient, especially for couples who are constricted with time.
The problem is that online divorce services are only recommended to uncontested cases. That means the couple must be in agreement on all matters related to their separation prior to filing the papers.
If online divorce interests you, here are six steps you must note.
6 Steps to Divorce Online
Step 1: Know If Your State Allows E-Filing for Divorce
Although the filling of divorce papers online has been welcomed in the federal courts for several years, there are still a couple of states that do not allow e-filing for divorce. Which is why if you are looking to file your petition through an online platform, the first step you need to get into is to check whether or not your state accepts online divorce filing.
Below are some of the states where you can file your divorce papers electronically.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Step 2: Determine In Which Court to File Your Divorce And Learn Its E-Filing And Service Rules
Each state has designated courts that allow the processing of divorce online. You need to identify which court in your state serves e-filing for divorce.
Also, it is important that you comprehend the e-filing procedure in your court system, as the rulings and processes vary per state. The judicial branch where you need to file your papers should be able to direct you to the website link where you can access the court’s e-filing and service rules to know the necessary information.
Once you have a clear understanding of the procedure, you may visit the local court’s website that accepts e-filing for divorce. Then, you need to register for an e-filing account by creating your username and password through the website.
In creating your e-filing account, you need to provide personal information such as your email address and contact information. You also need to activate your account before you can start processing your papers.
Make sure that all details are accurate because your e-filing account is very important in processing your divorce online. It is the only tool you need to use in submitting your divorce papers online.
However, you should also note whether your state requires an attorney when e-filing your divorce papers. In this case, you need to hire an attorney to file your divorce online.
Step 3: Prepare Your Divorce Papers for E-Filing
Now, this is the part where you must to decide whether to “do it yourself” or employ a third-party company to file your divorce online.
In Step 2, we mentioned that there are states that require an attorney in e-filing for divorce. If your state court has removed this requirement in the process, you can proceed with creating an e-filing account and preparing your divorce papers by yourself.
However, you need to be aware that filling the necessary documents can be daunting. You need to make sure that all vital details of your divorce are included and the forms are properly filled. That is why some people opt to hire third-party companies specializing in online divorce processing to undertake the job.
Many third-party websites offering online divorces can do the paperwork and review it for you before submission. If you have found a reliable firm, then the proceedings are highly likely to run smoothly. Therefore, if you do decide to pay for an online service to file your divorce, it is best to research the most decent and trustworthy firm.
Step 4: File Your Divorce Papers Electronically
If you opted to hire a third-party legal documents service to file your divorce only, then this step shall be a breeze. But if you chose the “DIY” method, then there are some few pointers you need to know.
After completing and signing your divorce documents, you need to scan them and convert them to the proper electronic format required by your state court. This step is necessary for you to be able to submit the forms online.
Next, you need to log-in to your e-filing account and begin the filing process. Please note that the exact rulings vary per state, so be sure that you have reviewed the process from Step 1.
Then, before the e-filing process completes, you will be prompted to pay a filing fee using a credit or debit card. The amount differs from state to state.
Don’t fret if you cannot afford your divorce filing fee. Some courts waive the filing fee for those who are under financial hardships. You can check your local court website for the details on how to go about it.
STEP 5: Prepare for The “Service Of Process”
Your divorce won’t be complete without serving your spouse with your divorce papers. The requirements per state differ, but basically, you need to give your spouse a legal notice that you are filing for divorce. The divorce documents are usually sent through personal and substituted service.
In personal service, the filing spouse hands the divorce paper directly to the non-filing spouse. However,in some states such as Connecticut and Florida, the service of process requires a private server by a State Marshal and a server from the Sheriff’s department.
A substituted service, on the other hand, allows delivery by simply mailing documents to the non-filing spouse’s address. If you decide to go this way, you have to know that some courts require that you send the papers through certified mail.
The post office shall send you the documents with two slips; one is a card that you have to mail back to your local post office as proof that you’ve sent the papers to your spouse. The other card is a return slip to be signed by the defendant once the documents are received.
Once the service of process is complete, the petitioner should file the necessary documents and proceed to the next step.
It’s worth noting, however, that some states do not require the service of process in cases where both the spouses have filed their divorce petition jointly. It can also be waived in cases where the non-filing spouse decides to sign a “Waiver and Acceptance of Service.”
This is an easier and hassle-free method to serve the spouse. But then again, you need to check whether or not your judicial branch allows this practice.
STEP 6: Wait for The Court to Review Your Divorce Petition And Schedule A Hearing
Your divorce online processing is almost complete! After submitting all the needed papers and forms, you need to wait for the court to review your petition.
During this stage, the court may request that both spouses attend hearings and meditation sessions. It is your duty to stay on top of your divorce process and make sure that you comply with the requirements on time.
If the court decides to see you in a hearing or a trial, you must fill in a few forms and request a trial in your judicial branch. They will then send you a notification of the exact date and time of your hearing through mail.
When preparing for a hearing, make sure to bring all the paperwork related to your case. You wouldn’t want to delay the process and reschedule a hearing because of a single document you forgot to present to the court.
Once the jury has granted your divorce, you will receive a divorce decree, a proof of the dissolution of your marriage. You must request a certified copy of this document as it is a requisite in a plenty of your endeavors in the future such as re-marrying, buying new properties and more.
The process of divorce takes time, and you cannot expect it to be painless and trouble-free. That is why you need to be ready for divorce before you submit your petition to the court.
When we talk about readiness for divorce, we mean your physical, emotional, and mental preparedness for the outcomes. Filing your divorce online can be a more smooth-flowing approach than the traditional one, but it also has its ups and down.
Therefore, when deciding on divorcing your spouse, you need to be ready for the pitfalls waiting for you in the process. If marriage ain’t easy, you can’t expect to cut it like a piece of cake.