How to File for a Divorce Online

how to file for online divorce
Worthy Staff

By Worthy Staff | Oct 19th, 2022

Divorce is one of the highest stress events a person can experience. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale tells us that divorce is the second highest stressor for people, second only to the death of a spouse.

But, filing for divorce online can help make the process a bit easier. So, how do you file for an online divorce?

In essence, there are two different ways you can file for a divorce online. The first is to do it yourself. The second is to enlist the aid of an online divorce service.

In this article, we will cover the soup to nuts of how to file for a divorce online. By the end of the article, you should have at least a basic understanding of your various options and how the process works. Then, you can make informed decisions about whether filing for a divorce online is the right option for you, and if so, how to go about it.

What Is An Online Divorce?

Simply put, an online divorce is the process of filing for a divorce on the internet rather than in person at court. You can do this either by downloading papers from court websites and filling them out yourself or by enlisting the help of an online divorce service.

When you file for a divorce online, the steps will likely include the preparation of your initial and final divorce papers, including the drafting of your divorce settlement agreement, and filing this paperwork with your county courts. 

The benefits of filing for an online divorce are that it can be much cheaper and more efficient than the in-person divorce process and hiring a lawyer. On the other hand, if you do it yourself without the aid of an online divorce service, it may also be frustrating, time-consuming, and confusing.

For this reason, some people prefer either an online divorce service or filing for divorce in person with attorneys rather than filing for divorce online without assistance.

Are Divorces Filed Online Legitimate?

While filing for a divorce online may not be available in every state or county, where it is available it is a completely legal and legitimate way to obtain a divorce from your spouse. 

Who Should File For A Divorce Online?

When it comes to divorces, there are two major types: contested and uncontested. In a contested divorce, one spouse either does not want to get divorced at all or agrees to a divorce but has disputes about essential factors in the divorce.

These disputes can include spousal or child support, division of property, or custody-related issues. If your divorce is contested, you should NOT file for a divorce online. Instead, your best option is to hire an attorney to help you navigate your divorce and the court system.

On the other hand, if your divorce is not contested, filing for a divorce online might be the best option for you. This is especially true if the factors in your divorce are not overly complicated and you are looking to complete the divorce as quickly and efficiently (and for as low a cost) as possible.

When you file for divorce online in an uncontested divorce, you need to choose a “no-fault ground” for the divorce. This no-fault ground is the legal reason for your divorce. No-fault reasons for your divorce may include irreconcilable differences or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

It is important to note that when filing for a divorce online, you will not be able to allege that your spouse was adulterous, a substance abuser, that they abandoned the marriage, or any other “fault grounds” as your legal reason for divorce. If any of these are the case for you, you should hire an attorney and file in person.

What If There Are Smaller Disagreements?

If you and your spouse have disagreements about the divorce but you think they could be overcome with a bit of help, you might want to look into mediation. By pursuing mediation, you might be able to get you and your spouse to a place where filing for a divorce online becomes a legitimate option.

Mediation is an official negotiation conducted by a neutral professional mediator. The mediator will work with you and your spouse to try and resolve whatever difference you have about factors in your divorce that can cause it to be contested. 

Some of the factors a mediator may be able to help solve include disputes between you and your spouse over:

or other similar disputes. Once these are resolved and the divorce is uncontested, you could be able to file for an online divorce.

Filing For A Divorce Online By Yourself

You can file a divorce online yourself without the aid of attorneys or even an online divorce service if online divorce is available in your state and county. You can do so by downloading the appropriate forms from your state and county clerks court websites, filling them out, and then filing them through the court

However, court websites can often be confusing and difficult to navigate. You may also have trouble figuring out which forms you actually need to fill out and how to appropriately file them. Certain situations may require different forms.

If you are having trouble filing for an online divorce by yourself, you may benefit from using an online divorce service to help you with the process. These are relatively affordable services – generally much less expensive than hiring an attorney – and they can save you a lot of time and aggravation throughout the process.

Using an Online Divorce Service

An online divorce service can be tremendously helpful in filing for a divorce online. They will help you figure out exactly which forms you need to fill out, how to fill them out correctly, and even help you file and finalize them with the courts.

If you decide to pay for an online divorce service, there are a number of steps to follow to begin the process and successfully file for a divorce. We lay those steps out here:

1. Sign Up for the Service

In order to begin the process with an online divorce service, you will need to begin by registering on the service’s website. Go ahead and create an account with a login name and password. The service will likely prompt you to answer a few basic questions about your divorce, yourself, and your spouse. If you are eligible for the service, you will be able to proceed.

2. Submit Your Information

You will likely need to gather and enter a lot of information about your divorce before you can file online. To enter the information into the system, it will likely take you about an hour. But you will also need time to gather all the required information and research any questions you may have before submitting it to the system. So the time necessary to complete this may take quite a bit longer than an hour.

It is important to note that you will need to enter a lot of sensitive and detailed information about your financial situation, yourself, and your children. For that reason, it is crucial that the service you use is a trustworthy website with strong security features.

Once you have entered your information, you will be able to review it for any mistakes. If there are errors, edit the information to correct them. Finally, the service will take this information and use it to generate the forms you need to sign and submit to the courts.

3. Review and Sign Your Forms

Once you review the forms and make any necessary corrections, go ahead and sign your forms. Your online divorce service will generate completed versions of the forms you need to file, including the marital settlement agreement. The marital settlement agreement is the final written contract between you and your spouse regarding the details of your divorce. Don’t forget to add your case number or any updated income information to forms where required before finalizing them.

In general, you can print and download as many copies of the forms as you require. Make sure to keep some copies for your own records. The service should also be able to mail you paper copies of the divorce settlement if needed.

Your final signature may need to be in either ink or created using an electronic signature on your computer. Your divorce service will instruct you as to the proper way to sign your documents. They will also let you know if any of the documents you are filing need to be signed off on by a notary public.

4. Filing Your Forms

The online divorce service will give you instructions on how and where to file your paperwork with the courts. The process may vary a bit by state or county. For example, some state courts may want you to file your initial divorce petition or complaint first, followed by a second set of documents at a later time.

You will need to get the initial divorce complaint to your spouse. This will often require you to officially serve your spouse with the divorce papers. However, in some states, you may be able to ask your spouse to sign a waiver of service form or file joint paperwork with your spouse rather than serving them with papers. Both spouses should have copies of all of the official paperwork.
If the state in which you are obtaining the divorce does not allow the waiver, or if your spouse refuses to sign the waiver, you will likely need to hire a process server.

5. Judicial Review and Final Judgment

Before you can finalize your divorce, a judge will need to officially review your papers and approve the divorce. It is possible that you will need to appear in court for the judge’s review. While some states do not require a final hearing, others do. However, you may be able to file a request or an affidavit to avoid needing this hearing.

Most of the time, your online divorce service will successfully help you fill out your paperwork and your divorce filing won’t be rejected. However, sometimes the court may inform you that you need to make a change, completion, or correction in your paperwork. For example, they may request a different version of a form.

Before hiring an online divorce service, check their policies on divorce paperwork that is rejected. You will want to see what kind of remedies they will provide in the event of a rejection. For example, find out if they provide a full refund or some other form of remedy.

In most states, you will need to wait for a specified period of time before you can schedule your final hearing or have your papers reviewed by the courts. This is known as a mandatory waiting period. The mandatory waiting period differs by state, from as short as a month to as long as a year.

Once your divorce is finalized, make sure you get a copy of the final judgment or divorce decree for your records. At this point, you are finished with your online divorce and can move on to hopefully happier things.

More About Online Divorce Services

Not all online divorce services are the same. Make sure you do your due diligence and research to make sure you are choosing the right service for you. For example, you may find that some services are more reliable than others. Read customer reviews and testimonials to make sure that the service in question does a good job for its clients.

You will need to make sure to choose a divorce service that is eligible in your state. Most of the major online divorce services are now expanding their reach throughout the United States to take advantage of the increase in popularity of the online divorce option.

Other things to note about the divorce service you choose are the clarity of the information on their website, whether they offer any demonstrations of their system, or if there areany fees or costs associated with their services. As you will be handing over a lot of sensitive personal information, you will also want to make sure they have a well-secured website.

In general, online divorce services charge anywhere from $200 to $2,500 or so for their services. You can usually split this fee with your spouse as well. You can imagine how much money you might save compared with the cost of hiring lawyers to work for you for months or years!

However, it is important to note that there may be additional fees for an online divorce including court filing, notary service, or process fees. But altogether, these will likely add up to significantly less than $1,000.

Online divorce service payment models may also differ. Some offer a one-time flat fee while others require you to pay for a monthly subscription until the divorce is finalized. Make sure you understand how you will be billed and if the cost is fair and makes sense for your financial situation.

Find An Online Divorce Service Now

If you are looking to file for divorce, hiring an online divorce service may be right for you. It will likely save you a lot of time, effort and money in situations where your divorce is uncontested. Click here to get started learning about online divorce services now.

Worthy Staff

Worthy Staff

The Worthy Blog is a place for inspiration, insight, and advice for all things surrounding life's greatest transitions - divorce, losing a loved one, retirement, and so much more. You can find us on our blog, Instagram, and Facebook.


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