Divorce, even when you try to remain friends, can be downright cruel. It’s the ending of life as you know it and the beginning of a new chapter in your story. We’ve all watched celebrities with their divorce drama splashed across the internet, magazines and television.
Thankfully, not every divorce needs to be this complicated. In fact, many marriages end peacefully through an uncontested divorce. If both parties agree on everything, there is absolutely no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer and have long-drawn-out courtroom battles. An online uncontested divorce makes it easy to sever ties and save money; allowing you to move on to the next chapter of your life.
Remember, not every situation is right for an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse are arguing over the division of assets, child support or custody, then it’s may make sense to get an attorney and go the traditional route. That said, if your divorce can be done amicably and peacefully, then obtaining your divorce forms online from a reputable service can save you a great deal of money and time.
My online divorce service Quick Picks (Updated April 2020)
If you are in a hurry, here are my two favorite divorce services in this review:
- 3 Step Divorce – By far the most reliable and affordable divorce service. You get what you pay for with 3 Step Divorce. Includes a free name change form (for wife) and much more. $50 cash rebate if you file within one business day of your order. 100% satisfaction guarantee. Having personally used 3 Step Divorce to successfully end my marriage, I can personally attest to the service's claims of ease-of-use, speed, accuracy and reliability; which is why I have selected it as my number one recommended service on this website. Get your guaranteed court-approved divorce papers with peace-of-mind today.
- Rocket Lawyer – If you are looking for a truly do-it-yourself (DIY uncontested divorce) service, RocketLawyer is my top recommendation. Unlike other services that automate the creation of state-specific divorce forms, RocketLawyer requires you to complete each legal form required by your state to file for a divorce. The process is simple, intuitive, self-paced and can be completed from your browser or smartphone/tablet via an app. Premium members receive a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your divorce. Licensed attorneys are available to answer legal questions at a significantly discounted rate.
My Recommended Top 5 Best Online Divorce Services Comparison Table
In the following comparison table, I break down each of my five best online divorce services into five separate categories. There isn't much room for lengthy column titles in the comparison chart, so I have included a more verbose legend that explains the contents of each column:
- Divorce Service: name of the particular divorce service
- Total Cost: the total cost the service charges to create and deliver your papers
- My Score: my overall rating for the service
- Ready Time: how long will it take you to obtain your paperwork?
- Form Delivery Methods: how will you take possession of your final divorce documents?
- Customer Support: available method(s) of communication for questions and assistance
|Divorce Service||Total Cost||My Score||Ready Time||Form Delivery Methods||Customer Support||Visit Website|
|3 Step Divorce||$299||9.8||20 Minutes||Instant Download and Priority Mail (free)||Phone, E-mail and Live Chat||Visit|
|Rocket Lawyer||$39.99+||9.3||Self Paced||Downloadable PDF||Phone and E-Mail||Visit|
|Complete Case||$299||8.7||1 Hour||Immediate Download||Phone and E-mail||Visit|
|My Divorce Papers||$359||8.4||2 Hours||Download||Live Chat and E-Mail||Visit|
|Wevorce||$949||7.6||30 Days||Postal Mail||Phone and E-Mail||Visit|
The above chart outlines what I consider to be the key features to look for when evaluating a divorce website. For a closer, more in-depth look at each of these services, continue reading for my reviews. But first, let's discuss some factors you should consider when choosing a divorce service.
Factors to consider when choosing a divorce site
Before making a final decision on which divorce site you intend to use to purchase your divorce paperwork, there are a few things you should consider:
Are your divorce papers guaranteed to be court-approved?
It is critical that the divorce forms you receive from the service you're considering are up to date to ensure they are going to be court-approved. Laws and regulations change regularly from state-state and divorce services need to stay on top of these changes.
If the company does not guarantee court ready documents, I would be wary. You could find yourself in a situation where you need to hire an attorney to modify your forms. This can be extremely expensive; well into the four figure range.
How much does the divorce service charge?
Every divorce site charges a different price for the use of their technology to generate your divorce paperwork. The best online divorce services clearly display their prices. You should be fully informed on how much the service will cost from start to court filing.
Check to make sure the service is charging a flat rate, one time only fee. If this is not clearly indicted on their website, I would be concerned. Transparency is important, and you should know up front what the cost will be and not be surprised by hidden or monthly fees you were not aware of at the time of purchase.
How will you contact customer support if you need help?
How would you like to communicate with customer support in the event you have a question or require assistance? Most services offer support across a variety of mediums: phone, live chat and e-mail.
Be sure to check that the service offers customer support communication on a medium you are comfortable with. If you would like to talk to someone on the phone, it is best to check before buying that they offer toll free phone support.
Does the service provide any court filing assistance?
Does the online divorce service provide post-purchase assistance with filing your documents with the court? Some services do not provide any assistance outside of your forms. Once your forms are generated, you are on your own when it comes to filing them.
If it’s important for you to have someone you can call for advice should you encounter any problems when filing your court documents, you will want to make sure this is included in your package.
What is the turnaround time? How long until you receive your final paperwork?
If it is important for you to get your divorce forms right away for filing, you will want to select a service that offers instantly downloadable forms. If you sign up with a service that sends your forms via postal snail mail, you will be waiting some time for your documents (which may disadvantageous in your situation).
The best online divorce reviews 2020 (my in-depth analysis)
With so many sites to choose from, it can be quite a challenge to determine which divorce service will be best for your particular situation without doing a ton of time-consuming independent research. Different services will offer different packages with different options and prices. Even more, some sites offer instantly downloadable forms while others could take up to 30 days to receive your paperwork. It can be a lot to keep track of.
Having tested many of these services myself, I have done my best to outline and review the most important aspects of each divorce service. Altogether, each one of my online divorce reviews cover the following areas:
- general information about the online divorce service
- turn around time of your paperwork
- how you will generate your forms
- how you will receive your forms
- customer support options available with your purchase
- any included guarantees with your purchase
- any additional pertinent information relevant to the service itself
Let's get into it!
3 Step Divorce is the fastest online divorce service (My Top Pick)
Founded in 1997, 3StepDivorce has developed a service that completely streamlines the process of getting your divorce forms online (as discussed at-length in the 3 Step Divorce reviews section of this website).
With 21+ years in business, over 750,000 happy customers and a one-hour guarantee on all finalized divorce papers, 3StepDivorce has defined itself not only as a leader but also a pioneer in the industry.
3StepDivorce has spent years developing an easy to use platform that greatly simplifies the process for generating court-compliant forms online; perfect for those who want to file their own divorce and not be bogged down by extravagant attorney costs.
When you purchase a package from 3StepDivorce, you will immediately be asked to create an account. Once your account has been created, you will be required to answer a few brief non-legal questions that are needed to generate your divorce forms online.
The questions do not have to be answered immediately. You can answer these questions at your convenience, at anytime. This is helpful if you want to have your partner around at a later time to fill out the answers with you. Each time you answer a question, it is saved for later.
After answering all questions, your divorce forms will be generated instantly using their proprietary software. 3StepDivorce guarantees that all divorce paperwork will be ready within one hour and will be in full legal compliance with the state you live.
You can access, modify and print your forms anytime from your secure account.
3StepDivorce takes securing your sensitive information very seriously. They have painstakingly built an A+ rated secure infrastructure that implements bank-grade 256-bit encryption to ensure your sensitive and private information remains completely secure.
3StepDivorce exceeds compliance with all federal and state laws and regulations with respect to storing private/sensitive information. You can rest assured that any information entered into your account or forms will not be accessible by hackers.
To use 3StepDivorce, all you will need is an internet-connected device with a modern web browser. 3StepDivorce is fully compatible with Windows, PC, and Macs as well as all mobile smartphones and tablets.
3StepDivorce charges a flat rate, one time affordable fee of $299 to generate your divorce papers online. This fee can be paid in full up front or you can pay them across two payments of $157 (each payment). All purchases are backed by a 100% money back guarantee.
Customer service is available 24/7 to assist you with any help you might need filling out your forms online. You can reach customer support by calling their toll free telephone number or you can take advantage of their live chat help system, where you can communicate with them in real-time live chat.
- Available to residents of the United States
- Fast and simple three step process to getting your divorce papers
- Over 750,000 forms processed since 1997
- Unlimited customer support accessible via phone or live chat
- Works if you or your spouse is in the military
- Works on PCs, Macs, mobile smartphones and tablets (with an internet connection)
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Flexible payments. If you'd like, you can make payments in monthly installment plans rather than paying the full amount up-front
- Slightly dated user interface
- Not available to residents of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island or Washington, D.C.
Rocket Lawyer makes it easy for you to customize affordable legal forms
Rocket Lawyer was founded in 2008 by Charlie Moore after selling his business. From day one, it has been the mission statement of Rocket Lawyer to provide as many people as possible with access to legal forms for an affordable price.
While not specifically a divorce service like the other services reviewed, Rocket Lawyer offers all the legal forms one would need in order to file for divorce on their own.
Rocket Lawyer has developed an easy to use platform that allows you to customize legal forms in real time from your web browser. To date, Rocket Lawyer has helped over 20 million people complete their legal forms online.
Rocket Lawyer has simplified the process of customizing legal forms. From your secure account, you answer questions about the document you wish to modify. The answers to these questions will be used to create the legal form.
Rocket Lawyer offers two distinct pricing structures. The first is paying for legal forms a-la-carte for $39.99 each. Given the amount of forms you will need to buy, this can quickly become expensive.
The other option is to join the Rocket Lawyer premium subscription service. This service bills monthly fee of $40.00 and gives you unlimited access to every legal form on their website. If you were to go this route and subscribe to this premium service, you would be able to customize all the documents you would need to file for divorce. Rocket Lawyer makes it easy for you to cancel the your subscription easily anytime by logging into your account.
Another benefit to being a premium member is you will receive a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your divorce. Further, you will gain access (during business hours) to real licensed attorneys that can answer any legal questions you may have.
Rocket Lawyer offers e-mail and toll free telephone based customer support regardless of whether you purchase your forms a-la-cart or if you join the premium subscription service.
- Simple, easy to use platform
- Access to unlimited legal forms as a premium member
- Access to real attorneys that can answer legal questions
- 7-Day free trial available
- Easy contract signing with digital signatures
- Customize and create legal documents with supported mobile apps for Apple and Android
- Not a traditional divorce service in that you will need to manage all document production and creation yourself (Rocket Lawyer provides integrated support to help make this a bit easier)
- If you purchase forms a-la-carte, it can be expensive (premium service is most cost-effective route to go)
CompleteCase has cheap online divorce papers
CompleteCase, as covered in my CompleteCase review, was launched in 2000 and is based out of Seattle, Washington. Since its inception, CompleteCase has successfully helped over 700,000 people create the papers required to file their uncontested divorce.
CompleteCase prides itself in offering cheap online uncontested divorce papers backed by a 100% guarantee that your paperwork will be accepted by the court that processes them. With CompleteCase's advanced technology, you can have your divorce papers ready to print and download within 30 minutes.
Generating your divorce papers online with CompleteCase is done in just a few quick steps. Upon purchasing their service, you will be requested to create a secure account in their system.
Your account at CompleteCase is where you will login to follow on-screen instructions and answer a number of non legal questions that are necessary to prepare your forms. After answering the questions, CompleteCase will create and customize your divorce papers instantly.
From within your account, you are free to edit your forms, download your forms (in pdf format) and print the forms anytime. After printing the forms all you need to do is sign them and file them with your local court. From the date of purchase, you have 30 days to complete and print your forms.
Being that CompleteCase has to store the sensitive information you enter into your account, they take many precautions for securing your data to ensure it is not vulnerable. All of your personal information is encrypted using the highest level of military level AES 256-bit encryption. Not only that, but CompleteCase stores it’s data in one of the most secure data centers in the USA.
CompleteCase has been a member of the Better Business Bureau since June 2002 and they have consistently maintained a high score. At the time of this writing, CompleteCase maintains an A rating from the BBB; a testament to the service and support they are offering.
CompleteCase charges a one-time fee of $299 for all divorce forms online. There is no other hidden or additional fees.
CompleteCase believes in customer support an is very responsive (day or night) to questions you may have. With every purchase CompleteCase includes unlimited phone (toll free) and e-mail support from experiences professionals that are highly experienced in dealing with uncontested divorces.
- Available in all 50 states, Washington, DC also Canada
- Instantly download forms and documents
- Guaranteed to be court-approved
- Access to legal advice from attorneys in your area
- Includes an optional and free Last Will & Testament completion (with storage)
- Customer support with experienced legal professionals via phone and e-mail
- Make unlimited changes to your forms within 30 days
- As seen on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, USA Today and many others
- Ideal divorce service to use if you're filing for a military divorce online
- If you would like hard-copies of your divorce papers delivered by postal mail, you will have to pay an additional fee
- If you don't finalize and print your divorce forms within 30 days of your purchase, you will have to pay $5 per month for CompleteCase to continue to host your forms (until you print and file them)
MyDivorcePapers sells ‘do it yourself' uncontested divorce paperwork
MyDivorcePapers was launched in 2002 and has developed a stellar reputation for offering full featured ‘do it yourself' dissolution paperwork that is ready to download and print in minutes (an in-depth analysis can be found in my comprehensive MyDivorcePapers review). In total, MyDivorcePapers has helped more than 1.2 million customers successfully generate court-approved forms in the 15+ years they have been in business.
MyDivorcePapers has spent years developing an intelligent, step-by-step system to create court-ready forms. Their state-of-the-art algorithm keeps current with each state’s latest specific legal requirements. This prevents any potential issues you may encounter when filing your paperwork with the state.
Once your forms have been created, you can print them instantly. MyDivorcePapers allows you to make unlimited changes to your forms and documents. Once printed, you need only sign the forms and bring them to your local court.
MyDivorcePapers includes additional free documents such as detailed instructions to print to give to your spouse, a free Marital Settlement Agreement, a free parenting plan, free child support calculator and a free alimony calculator. Finally, a free name change form for wives is provided so she can get her maiden name back.
Every account is assigned a dedicated case manager upon purchasing. This case manager can be reached by phone or e-mail and can answer questions or assist you.
MyDivorcePapers provides access to their video library full of videos covering a plethora of divorce related topics. These useful videos cover topics pertaining to taxes, estate planning, child support and many others.
Security and privacy is a top concern for MyDivorcePapers. They have invested heavily in a secure data center that houses all encrypted sensitive information. All personal information is encrypted using cutting edge algorithms that exceeds state and federal requirements. You can rest easy knowing your information is safe and secure.
MyDivorcePapers will only provide a refund if the court rejects your paperwork. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, tons of customers are reporting that the paperwork received from MyDivorcePapers is inaccurate (out of date) and as a result is being rejected.
Customer complaints on the rise (April 2020): Customer complaints like the following have become very common over the past year:
Given these reports, I would not recommend MyDivorcePapers at this time. Until they are able to update their documents and provide a reliable service, it's too much of a gamble. With so many other reliable services to choose from, do yourself a favor and pass on this one.
- Approved forms in all 50 states
- Unlimited revisions to your divorce papers for free
- Provides detailed instructions to give to your spouse
- Customer support hours are limited as compared to other services
- There are no mobile apps for smartphones of tablets
- Refunds are only issued if your documents are rejected by the court
Wevorce provides a professional divorce service focused on family
Wevorce (also known as LegalZoom divorce) offers an all-inclusive professional divorce service that is primarily focused on family. Wevorce believes that you should be able to get through your divorce with less stress, less emotional impact and more preparedness. Through this approach, you will be able to create a more realistic and sustainable divorce plan that works for you and importantly, your family.
It is within this framework that Wevorce set out to build their accurate and reliable service. Having been in business since 1999 with over 3 million satisfied customers combined with their high quality service, it is easy to see that they have achieved this goal.
Wevorce has consolidated the process of generating your divorce forms online into three steps, which are all completely self-paced. You will complete these steps from within your secure Wevorce account after signing up for their service.
Initially, you will start by answering a series of questions pertaining to your situation as well as what you and your spouses optimal outcomes should be.
Next, Wevorce's certified professional experts will review the information you provided and begin to prepare your paperwork for court filing.
Finally, you will receive your completed court-ready divorce paperwork via UPS or USPS. You can then take these forms to file with the court (at your convenience).
After receiving your forms, Wevorce remains in contact with you to provide assistance should you encounter any hiccups in the filing process or require any additional assistance.
Wevorce takes a strong stance on securing your private and sensitive information. In addition to complying with all laws and regulations, all information is encrypted using 256bit symmetrical encryption. This guarantees your sensitive information will never be compromised.
Wevorce charges a flat rate fee of $949 for their professional, collaborative divorce service. All divorce paperwork is reviewed by a licensed attorney for correctness and is guaranteed to be court-approved.
If desired, Wevoce offers hourly assistance from Certified Professions that can help guide you should you get stuck. This service is optional and available for $199/hour.
Wevorce stands behind their service and offers on-demand support across a variety of platforms. Wevorce offers customer support via toll free telephone, e-mail and via a live chat help system on their website (found in the lower right hand corner).
- One time fee: all inclusive, self guided and self paced
- All documents and forms are reviewed by a professional before delivery for accuracy
- All documents are guaranteed to be 100% court-approved
- Access to Certified Professionals and experts
- Document delivery by USPS or UPS
- Access to co-parenting and financial mapping tools
- Featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Good Morning America and many others
- On demand customer support via phone, live chat and e-mail
- Divorce documents will not be ready same day. It will take up to 30 days to get your paperwork
- More expensive when compared to other services
What are the differences between divorce vs dissolution?
When it comes to divorce vs dissolution, they are often used interchangeably in legal applications. However, there is a vast difference. Though the two words have a similar meaning, they are not at all the same. Both will result in the termination of marriage, but how the marriage ends differs with each one.
The court must rule on matters like child custody, alimony, and child support, when an order is passed regardless of whether it’s for a dissolution or a divorce. In that way, both are very similar.
The procedure and concept are the same because in both legal actions the couple is separated. To end a union, you have the choice of divorce or dissolution. The key is understanding the conditions and significances of each one.
What exactly is a divorce?
The major difference between a divorce and a dissolution is that in divorce someone is at fault. You must have grounds to sue for divorce. For instance, you can use grounds like infidelity, mental or physical cruelty, abandonment, and being married under false pretenses. So if your spouse is verbally abusive, it can be used as a ground to end the union.
One of the biggest disadvantages of a divorce is that they are very costly and can drag on forever. There are numerous decisions that must be made, and the court must be involved in all of them. It takes a lot of time to get to a place where both parties agree on a matter. Some divorces can take years and costs thousands of dollars due to all the arguing over trivial matters.
What exactly is a dissolution?
In a dissolution, no one is at fault. The court doesn’t have to find one party or the other to blame for the marriage ending. Filing this way doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems in the union, it just means that both take equal responsibility and want to end the marriage quickly and peacefully. Just because no party is more responsible than the other doesn’t mean that you can file this way.
In addition to no-fault, the couple must agree on everything. Keep in mind that in these situations the court reviews the paperwork and signs off on it. They don’t give these cases the time and effort that a divorce gets as all the leg work is done before it gets to them.
Before filing a petition, the following matters must be settled:
- Alimony or Spousal Support
- Visitation and Parenting Schedule
- Child Support
- Division of Assets/Property
- Debt Division
Many people are in favor of filing for a dissolution because it costs less. Another benefit is the union is severed a lot faster than in a divorce. Because there is nothing to work out between the parties, it’s the quickest way to separate. Those who are in a hurry to move on with their life often choose this option to be done with everything in a timely manner.
Which option is the right one for you?
You may wonder which option is best for you and your situation. First, do you and your spouse agree on everything? There cannot be one item that you are arguing over or you will need to file for divorce.
Second, do you have the time and energy to fight a long battle over assets and debts? If you have significant wealth, then you may want a lawyer to protect you and your money. The grounds are the biggest reason for divorce. You must put the legal blame on one party for the end of your union.
A dissolution is best when you agree on everything or you don’t really have many assets or debts to squabble about. Both parties take responsibilities even if they don’t want too.
The difference of opinion is the grounds used in a dissolution, which is why continuing the union would be difficult. It’s better financially to separate through dissolution because it’s cost efficient.
The many options for a legal dissolution
For a dissolution, you can choose a few different ways to file. You can hire an attorney to represent you, you can fill out the paperwork yourself, or you can use an online service.
An attorney will still be the highest cost, even in a dissolution. You can fill out the paperwork yourself and pay the filing fee. However, did you know that if you mess up the paperwork your case can be thrown out of court? Do you really want to risk starting over again and paying another filing fee?
The best option is an online divorce filing service. They ask you a serious of questions that are pertinent to your life. You fill in the answers and they transfer them onto the official forms.
An online service works in all 50 states, so they have the forms you need to file. Once your forms have been completed and reviewed by the service, all you need to do is sign them and file at your courthouse.
You have the option to forgo a formal hearing and you can receive your decree in the mail. An online service is the most cost efficient and best option to ensure your paperwork is done right. If there is any way that you and your spouse can agree on things, it will be best to go this route.
A traditional divorce may be more expensive than you think
In the United States, the average divorce costs over $10,000, and some couples pay as much as $30,000. It’s easy to see that the cost of ending a marriage is skyrocketing.
Those staggering figures are leading many to negotiate even when they would rather fight it out in court. Spending over $10,000 is a heck of a bill to get out of an unhappy marriage.
Thankfully, there are ways for you to keep the costs down.
How much does a divorce cost if both parties agree on everything?
If both parties agree on everything, the divorce process is pretty straight-forward. The cost really starts to increase when you and your spouse arguing over every little detail. Plan to spend about $250 on a filing fee and another $50 for service to your spouse.
Now, the attorney fees are where it’s all over the map. If you don’t have any assets or children, then your divorce can be as low as a $1,000 retainer. However, if you add in a couple of bank accounts, a house, and some children, then the initial down payment can be $2,500 or more.
Keep in mind these are just the down payments. The average attorney bills out at $250 an hour. Every time you email, call or get any correspondence, it’s added to the running tab. Watch how quickly that $2,500 disappears. In some areas, you may be asked to replenish your retainer.
A few tips for cutting the cost of a divorce
Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can cut your divorce costs. An uncontested divorce is much cheaper than one where there is ample contention.
Consider divorce mediation services
Using mediation services is an excellent option. These third-party representatives help you to focus on the issue and less of the contention. They help with custodial agreements and asset division.
Mediation services start at roughly $500, and it’s a great option to help cut the budget. They have helped many people avoid the courtroom drama and end a marriage on a high note.
Use a divorce site to get your paperwork
One of the best options for those who want to get out of their marriage on a budget is to file online. Every court gives people the opportunity to file the paperwork yourself and just pay the filing fee.
Filing pro-se is risky when you know nothing about the laws that protect you. The problem is that unless you have some legal knowledge, filling out that paperwork can be a nightmare. An online service is a fraction of the cost of a divorce attorney. They use interview type questions, think tax programs, and take your answers to fill out the court’s forms.
These services know what forms you need for your area. Once everything is prepared, the paperwork is sent to you to sign and file. It’s the simplest way to end an unhappy union, and it works for many people.
The key is you must have all the little details already worked out. You must agree on everything. If you file the paperwork and then have disagreements regarding assets or a visitation schedule, then your case will be moved to a divorce instead of a dissolution.
Another advantage is that most dissolutions don’t require you to go to court. A judge may need you to come in if there is something that they have questions about, but generally, you won’t have to face the other party in a formal type setting. The judge will sign off on your petition, and your marriage will cease to exist.
Online divorces are a fraction of the cost and having someone help you ensure the papers are right is priceless.
The hidden costs of divorce that aren't typically considered
Some of the other fees that people don’t consider in a divorce can also increase the overall costs. For instance, if you both own a house, then the home will need to be sold and the amount split.
The only other option is that one party remains in the home and buys out the interests of the other party. You may end up needing to pay for a move and all the costs associated with relocation.
If there are numerous assets, then you may need to call in a specialist to help. An accountant can assist in selling or dividing the property equitably. While considering the legal fees are important, many other costs cannot be ignored.
It would behoove you to do whatever possible to iron out all the details amicably. If you have children, you will need to work with your ex for many years to come, if not for life.
Compromise is the key to a peaceful end. You can be contentious and fight it out in court, but you are the one who will ultimately pay. Do you really want to run up a massive bill that you cannot afford? The other option is for you to cut your losses and be open minded.
The sooner you can finish up this unsettled business, the quicker you can start moving on with your life.
Common questions asked about online divorces
I regularly receive questions from visitors. Below are the most common questions I have received pertaining to uncontested divorces online.
Is it completely legal to get divorce papers online?
Yes, it is completely within the confines of the law to get your divorce papers online. If you were to seek the counsel of a lawyer in your area, the lawyer would ultimately prepare the exact same forms that you get from an online divorce service. The primary difference would be cost; thousands of dollars for a lawyer versus couple hundred dollars to do it online.
Remember, these forms vary from state-to-state and can be rather complex in nature as each state maintains its own unique divorce laws. That is the advantage to using a service online. They regularly keep track of ever-changing divorce laws and streamline the process of generating your forms. This ensures the forms you receive are accurate, up-to-date and court-ready.
How legitimate are online divorces?
Online divorces are just as legitimate as filing for divorce with an attorney – the process and paperwork is exactly the same. Similar to what a local attorney does, online divorce websites regularly keep up-to-date on the divorce laws and regulations for each state. This allows the service to generate the exact same state specific and court-ready divorce papers that you would receive from a local attorney but at a significantly reduced price.
Do you need a lawyer for a ‘pro se' uncontested divorce?
A ‘pro se' divorce is an uncontested divorce; a divorce where both parties agree on everything and there are no disputes over custody of children, division of property/assets/debt, alimony, child support, etc. If this applies to your situation, you only need proper divorce paperwork to end the marriage.
If you already have prepared your divorce forms and signed them, you do not need a lawyer to file your papers with the state. That said, there are people who hire an experienced lawyer in their area to carefully review and amend their documents prior to submitting them to the court. This is what is known as a ‘hybrid’ online uncontested divorce.
If you were to pursue this route, you would pay a lawyer for the time it takes them to review and modify (if necessary) your divorce papers. Depending on the lawyer you hire, you could spend anywhere from $250-$500 per hour (possibly more in major metropolitan areas).
How long does it take to get an uncontested divorce?
The total time it takes to complete an online uncontested divorce boils down to two factors primarily. First is the turn around time of the uncontested divorce forms you purchased online.
The other factor is how long it will take the court to process your paperwork and assign you a Judgment of Divorce hearing. Generally speaking, most online divorce services will turn around divorce forms instantly after you answer the required questions. Once the form is generated, you can download it, print it, sign it and file it with the court (you will have to pay court filing fees).
At that point, it is out of your hands. You have to wait for the court to assign you a Judgment of Divorce hearing date. This can be anywhere from a few days to a year, depending on how busy the court is and if your state has minimum waiting time periods.
Interestingly, the quickest uncontested divorces occur in Hawaii, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nevada. In states like New York, Maryland and North Carolina, there is a law on the books that require a minimum 12 month waiting period. New Jersey is even worse with a minimum 18 month waiting period before you can get a hearing.
What is the cost of an uncontested divorce online?
Compared to hiring a local attorney, the cost of an uncontested divorce online is the cheapest and fastest way to end a marriage (as long as both you and your spouse agree on everything). This includes child support, alimony and division of debt/assets. If this applies to your present situation, you will have two costs:
The first cost is the price of your prepared and court-ready divorce forms. You can browse the comparison chart on this page (up at the top) for a complete list of prices; it is generally in the ballpark of $200-$300 for a reputable service.
After receiving your divorce paperwork, you will need to file it. There is no way around this. To file with the state, you will be responsible for paying a filing fee prior to the court accepting your paperwork. This is typically in the neighborhood of $200 but will vary by state.
Note: In some cases, you can petition the court to waive your filing for (for reasons of financial hardship) but this rare and not guaranteed.
Is it possible to get divorced for free?
Technically, yes, but it is extremely rare. The only way to obtain a free uncontested divorce is to petition the court to waive the state imposed divorce filing fee. It is my understanding that the court rarely grants this waiver to individuals. If they do, it is because of circumstances like extreme financial hardship. Honestly, I would not count on the court waiving for filing fee, but I suppose anything is worth a shot.
I am a soldier. Can I file for a military divorce online?
Military divorces are quite common with distance often put between spouses as well as stress brought on by combat and other uncontrollable circumstances. However, these divorces are entirely different than a typical dissolution because if a person is stationed overseas or is on active duty, there are specific laws that apply. The law governs the pay allocation for the military’s retirement as well as the fact that the benefits continue for the spouse once the divorce is finalized.
Most online divorce services provide built-in support for filing a military divorce. You will be asked up-front if you or your spouse are in the military. If so, you will then be asked all relevant questions so that the correct forms for a military divorce can be created.
Where to file for divorce in the military
When a military professional is placed on active duty, the question is “where do you file for divorce?” The rule of thumb is that you file where you pay your state taxes. Your driver’s license and bank accounts are all linked to one city, and this is where you should submit your legal documents.
Not only is it the easiest logistically, but it’s considered the legal home of the person. For the divorce to be valid, it must be filed in the location that the military person considers their permanent residence.
For active duty personnel, some states are a bit looser on the requirements for residency. If a person is stationed in one state but lives in another, they can sometimes file in the state they are stationed in or where they live now.
Each state has rules for waiting periods, but all offer no-fault divorces. The location is essential when considering custodial arrangements and other details pertinent to assets.
Another advantage to being in the military is that a spouse can file for divorce if one or both parties are overseas on location. It’s always better to file in the United States rather than in another nation. The reason is the military should honor the pension division here, but they don’t have to acknowledge it from a foreign country. A judgment received overseas may not hold up here either and be a total waste of time and resources.
The Leave and Earnings Statement is a useful document to have during a divorce. It will show the current rate of pay, leave accrued, and the permanent address of the military member, but it’s also helpful in showing tax information and assisting the judge to sort out all the details.
Military benefits available to your dependents
One of the perks of being in the military is that they provide for the dependents of personnel after the divorce is finalized. Even if the service members receive a dishonorable discharge, the dependents still get the benefits. Depending on the situation, there are various levels of compensation that you can receive.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act says that up to 50 percent of the retirement pay of the military member can be awarded in a divorce. However, keep in mind that this is not the amount always given or the maximum amount given, it’s just the average.
To determine if the spouse gets full benefits, the 20/20/20 rule is utilized. It depends on how long you were married to see if your spouse will get commissary or medical benefits.
The court also looks at the number of years during the marriage that the spouse was in active service. All these numbers help the court to come up with a fair compensation percentage.
Other things to take under consideration
Just as a civilian divorce, military personnel can file uncontested or contested. The rules will be the same for anyone filing either petition in that there will need to be grounds for the divorce or a complete agreement on the assets and custody issues.
When it’s a non-contested divorce, and a party is in the military, then the couple must first file for a separation agreement. The court must see the documents handling assets and child custody/support before they can grant a divorce.
If something is going on while in the service that prevents a military professional from legally protecting themselves, then they can ask the court to postpone the legal proceedings.
The Military Divorce Postponement & the Civil Relief Act allows people who are in active combat, or in areas where they are not accessible, to delay their divorce until their ability to handle the matter suitably. They must submit the request in writing to take advantage of this advantage.
All military divorces are reported to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. TRICARE is the insurance company that provides health insurance to both the spouse and children. While they will continue to provide benefits to the kids, the spouse loses all rights to coverage.
Any biological children will be protected until they reach 21 years or age. If the child chooses to enroll in college, they can collect benefits until they are 23 years of age. The only stipulation is that they cannot marry and are a dependent of the military professional.
Can I get same sex divorce papers online?
The world forever changed when the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry. It all happened on June 25, 2015, and this ruling allowed people who were separated by rules and regulations to unite in marriage. A Due Process and Equal Protection Clause was added to the Constitution's 14th Amendment to ensure equality for all.
The court case that changed everything
It all began with then Obergefell v. Hodges case. The ruling, in this case, meant that not only could gay couples marry, but they also had the same rights to divorce.
Before this ruling was handed down, people were going to states that allowed gay marriage to take their vowels, but their marriages weren’t recognized in their home states because of the ban. Everything changed because all states were now required to acknowledge the laws of the others.
The same rules apply to same-sex couples that apply to others nationwide. The residency restrictions must be upheld, though. You should not file in the locale where you were married unless you still reside there. Everyone needs to file where they currently live.
Prior to this ruling, people couldn’t file for divorce because their state didn’t recognize them as legally married. Thankfully, everything changed.
With these rights also comes the right to ask the court for help in divorce.
Do-it-yourself same sex divorce? Can it be done?
Whether the marriage is same-sex or a heterosexual one doesn’t matter, you can still successfully complete a divorce without a lawyer. We live in the do-it-yourself generation.
Why pay all the expenses of an attorney if you and your spouse agree on everything? Who wants to spend thousands of dollars and have a long-drawn-out battle if you can part amicably?
Divorce is always easier if there is no arguing. Many couples can come to terms on alimony, child support and custody arrangements, as well as the division of property. If you are concerned about the costs, then the do-it-yourself option is best.
Understanding the same sex divorce process
You have a few options regarding the completion of paperwork for your divorce petition. First, you can pick up a packet at your local courthouse and fill it out yourself. The only problem with this method is many people are not legal savvy, and you want to make sure that it’s done right.
Another option is to pay an attorney to handle the divorce or dissolution for you. This is the most expensive option because the average separation is at least $10,000.
Lastly, you can go online and do your paperwork through the help of a service. This is the best option because you will be asked a series of questions that are easy to answer. You must know all about your assets, balances on credit cards, and the birthdates and social security numbers of all parties involved.
Once the interview is completed, it fills in the dissolution documents for you. What could be easier? Your paperwork is done right, and it’s professionally drafted for the court in the area in which you reside.
Once you have your completed paperwork in hand, you must file it at the appropriate courthouse. Your state has rules and requirements for residency. Most locales require at least six months in an area (to establish residency) before you can file in the state.
For example, in the state of Ohio, you can file the paperwork in the county where you reside even if your spouse no longer lives there, but you must have been there for six months. Florida has the same rules. Check with your municipality to find out the requirements.
What else to think about
Just like any other divorce, things tend to get messy. Often couples fight over the division of property and child or spousal support. Spousal support or alimony is figured based on how many years a couple has been together.
It is the same for both same-sex and heterosexual unions. When it comes to children things can get quite complicated. Before the ruling was handed down, the legal parent had all the rights to the child.
However, the state adoption laws grant non-birth parent’s permission to adopt the child if their partner gives birth during their marriage. It gets messy when the parent isn’t listed as a legal guardian; however, the court may still rule in favor of the other parent.
It’s always best to work out these issues before you go to court to save time and money.