If you are undergoing a divorce process that is uncontested, you can easily opt for the relatively painless and cheaper option of getting your divorce through the online route. But, if there are any issues of contention, it would be better if you went through the divorce process with the counsel of a divorce lawyer.
Before selecting the online method for divorce, you have to first check whether you come under your state’s residency requirements for divorce. This requirement states that you should have lived in your state for a fixed amount of time before being eligible to file for divorce from there. The time limit can range between three to six months.
The second thing you have to check is whether the state in which you are going to file your divorce, offers the online filing of divorce or not. Even if it doesn’t, you can at least download and prepare all the requisite divorce documents.
Given below are a few steps to help you traverse the online divorce route easily.
- You need to locate your State Court’s website and in order to do so, you have to go through the lists of State Court websites that are provided by the National Center for State Courts. It is important to select the correct link under your state. You can look for a ‘court structure’ link and look for the court that is concerned with divorces after reviewing the structure of your State Courts. In case, this isn’t helpful for you, you can also attempt to ignore or eliminate all the links given below, as choices:
- Any link mentioning Appeals or Appellate
- Any link mentioning Judiciary
- Any link mentioning City or Municipal Court
- Any link that says Superior Court, unless you reside in New York
- Any link that mentions Probate, Juvenile or Tax Court
- Once you have located your State Court’s website, you have to review the website for all the requisite information about divorce, divorce documents, electronic filing or e-filing as well as online preparation of divorce forms. You can follow the given tips to access your information faster:
- Search for divorce or divorce forms with the help of your computer’s search engine.
- Search for the ‘self-help’ or ‘self-service’ link.
- Next, search for an ‘e-filing’ link.
- In case, the site has a Family Court or Family Law section, you have to look there.
- Now, that you have the e-filing form or divorce forms with you, you have to carefully follow the instructions given on the Court’s website and fill the forms. You may have to fill up information like:
- Name of your spouse, his or hers county of residence, social security number, telephone number and current address.
- Names of your children, their dates of birth and social security numbers.
- Information about your financial status including debts and assets.
- Information about the terms of agreement, which will include child custody, visitation and support agreements as well as spousal support among others.
- In case, your state does not have e-filing of divorce forms; you have the option of availing the services of an online divorce document preparation service. These services allow you to complete your divorce forms online and then provide you with its printable copies as well as filing instructions. These online services cannot offer you legal advice as only a divorce attorney can do so and their services come at a nominal price. Before selecting an online divorce document preparation service, you need to check reviews of the service providers either online or from other sources.
- You need to now, take your prepared divorce documents and follow the instructions given for filing the forms with the Court. In case, you have not got the requisite instructions along with the divorce documents, you can enquire about the same from your county’s Court Clerk’s Office as to the required number of copies of each document, the filing fees and types of payment accepted by the court. Take all the required documents along with the filing fee to the Clerk’s Office where you will be assisted in filing with the Court.
- After having filed your divorce documents, you will need to make sure that your spouse receives a copy of all the previously filed documents or as it is termed ‘is served’
- Since your divorce is probably an uncontested one for you have chosen the online route, you may be able to proceed with the divorce process without a hearing and will just have to wait out the prescribed period of time before filing your agreement and getting the judge’s signature on the divorce decree.
- In case, there are areas wherein you and your spouse do not have an agreement, you will require to attend a hearing and will receive a date for the same within a few weeks. In instances when you do not receive a hearing date, you should schedule one after contacting the Court.
- Take the hearing for your divorce seriously and prepare for the same. You need to do the following:
- First, you need to go through the Rules of Evidence for Court Proceedings of your state. This will help you know what things are admissible in court and what aren’t. You can access these rules from your State Court’s website.
- Gather all documentary evidence, if any that you would want to use in your divorce proceedings. You will require around three copies of each, be it document or photograph that you want to produce as evidence. The original is for the Judge, one copy is for your spouse and attorney and one for you.
- Your witnesses should be prepared and should be able to answer questions in support of your claims.
- In case there is a hearing, you have to ensure that you follow proper courtroom etiquette by following the given instructions:
- Be punctual and arrive on time.
- Stand up when addressing the presiding Judge.
- Address the Judge as ‘Your Honor’ or ‘Judge’
- Address the witnesses as well as others as ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’
- Do not speak out of turn.
- Dress in a conservative and professional fashion.