You have made the decision that your marriage has come to an end and that the only option available to you is to get a divorce. This can be a scary and daunting realization to have, especially when it comes to the next step you need to take which is filing for divorce. The good news is that you can do an online divorce. Although this may appear to be complicated, the process is actually rather simple and straightforward. By making the decision to file your divorce online, you are also ensuring that you are taking the cheapest route possible. We have broken the process down into simple steps to make it easier to understand.
The first step you need to take is to confirm that you are eligible for divorce in the state in which you live. Every state has different requirements that you need to meet in order to be eligible to file for divorce. One requirement, which is common in most states, is that in order to file for divorce, you need to have lived in the state for a minimum of 6 months. Some states may require a period of residency which is longer than 6 months but may also waive this requirement depending on your circumstances. You will also need to consider the requirements of the state in which your spouse lives, if different from your own state. It may be possible that you need to file for divorce in your spouse’s state over your own. In terms of any other additional requirements, consult with your local county clerk or an attorney.
Consult with an Attorney
If the circumstances around your divorce are relatively complicated, and you feel like you need guidance taking the steps to file your papers, make use of the free initial consultations which many family lawyers offer. These consultations can take place in person, over the phone or online. Some attorneys offer a different rate based on your income. Be sure to inquire about rates and possible discounts if you need an attorney throughout the filing process. Regardless of payment, consulting with an attorney in the early phases of your divorce will give you peace of mind that you are on the right track when it comes to filing for divorce. Even if you feel like your situation is simple and you don’t require the assistance of an attorney, this initial consultation will put your mind at ease and could potentially save you money, in the long run, should you overlook something from the beginning which an attorney may have picked up.
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Obtain Divorce Papers
Whether you are working with legal assistance or have decided to complete your divorce without an attorney, the next step in filing for divorce is to obtain the forms. You will certainly be able to get these from your attorney or, alternatively, you may be able to download them online from your local county court website (depending on which state you live). While a divorce over the internet may seem taboo, this is becoming increasingly common with many states now facilitating this type of more affordable divorce. If you are completing a DIY and online divorce, it is advisable to check with your local county court as to exactly which forms you will need. This may differ based on whether or not you and your spouse have children or whether or not your divorce is contested or uncontested. A county clerk, while not able to give you legal advice, will be able to assist you with questions about your forms and provide you with the information you will need.
File a Separation Agreement (if needed)
Some states, such as Massachusetts, will require that you separate and file for this separation before you will be permitted to file for divorce. This agreement will usually cover all matters of your separation including maintenance, child support, and living arrangements. Once this has been decided upon, you will then be able to file for divorce. Separation agreements can also be filed online.
Gather Supporting Documents
Once you have your divorce papers completed, begin gathering all the supporting documents you will need. This will include a list of all assets, bank statements, deeds, mortgage details and any other information which relates to the marital home and affairs of your marriage. You will need to supply a copy of your marriage certificate and a copy of your children’s birth certificates, if applicable. If you don’t have a copy of your wedding certificate, this can be applied online from the state’s vital records office. Getting a copy typically costs less than $20 but may take up to 2 weeks to obtain, so plan accordingly. All of these documents will need to be scanned and sent in with your divorce forms as you complete your online filing.
Complete a Request for Temporary Orders
During the course of your divorce, you may need to file for a temporary order of support while your divorce is pending. This may include maintenance for both you and your children, including child support. This would also be the opportunity to file for any other orders such a restraining order against your spouse, should you not feel safe while the divorce is in process. Temporary orders are only enforceable while the divorce is pending and ends when the divorce is finalized.
File your Forms
Once you have completed all the necessary forms and supporting documents, you will need to make copies of these documents before filing them online. These forms will be stamped and then two copies will be sent back to you. One of those copies is for your records while the second copy must be delivered to your spouse. On this note, you will need to provide the court with proof that your spouse received these documents. So be sure that you get a reliable person to do the delivery. You are not allowed to serve your spouse yourself. You can send the papers via courier and ask your spouse to send you a proof in the form of a delivery receipt that they accepted the forms.
Pay your filing fees
The final step in filing for divorce is to pay your filing fees. The fees to file for a divorce vary from state to state. The price range typically varies from $200 to $500. In the event that you can’t afford the fees, you can apply for a fee waiver. If you do this, you will need to provide evidence that you cannot afford to pay these fees. The payment of these fees is typically accepted in cash or EFT. If you are wanting to file online, you will need to make an EFT to the county court. This completes the process of filing for divorce online.
What’s next after filing
Once the filing of your divorce papers is complete, the next step will be to complete a divorce agreement between you and your spouse. You will also need to reach agreement on all matters relating to your children. After completing your divorce online, additional steps may include attending divorce and parenting classes, attending a court hearing or completing additional documentation for the settlement agreed upon between you and your spouse.
We hope that the above explanation makes it easier for you to file for your divorce online and complete the divorce process on your own. Filing for an online divorce is becoming increasingly easier as many counties and states realize that not all spouses can afford the exorbitant cost of a divorce.