Going through a divorce takes a toll on your mental and physical health. Even if the divorce is consensual, the individuals involved still take a hit as they are parting ways with someone they spent a significant time of their lives. Moreover, the added financial stress and time requirements cause further disruption in your life.
While consulting legal professionals and appearing before court is a traditional process that people have to go through. Generally, they would preferably avoid all that hassle to save time, money, and peace if they have an alternative route. Fortunately, entities on the internet now offer online divorce services to provide quick and hassle-free solutions to couples who seek a fast separation process. However, is divorcing in the cyber world is a good idea?
What Is Online Divorce?
When people hear about online divorce, they immediately create an image of a virtual meeting between their spouses and legal representatives for a more straightforward process. While the process is fairly easier, it is not a walk in the park. First, you need to download and fill a divorce petition. You or your spouse can fill this, but it might take some research and understanding without an attorney guiding you through. After completing the divorce form, then you will need to submit it to the country courthouse. Depending on your state and area, you can submit the divorce petition online or in person.
Once you have submitted the divorce petition, the tricky part of this scheme comes next. Whichever spouse has submitted the petition to the court must fill a summons to serve the other spouse. The court issues an official letter or summons. Which informs the defendant about their legal requirements regarding the case. But, if the summons is not filled correctly, the defendant can claim that they never received it. Or that they received an invalid one, invalidating your case. You might prefer that your spouse fill the summons or hire legal help to help you with the process.
Final Disclosure Forms
Moreover, if you and your spouse are parents and want joint custody or have other property to share or divide, you both will need to work on a plan to settle these matters, which means more paperwork without legal help. The next and final step in completing the divorce without setting foot in the court requires submitting the final disclosure forms. This form must be submitted within 60 days of the petition being filed, along with a tax return certificate. The disclosure forms are also filed by either one of the spouses. The other one needs to respond and sign it within time.
If everything goes smoothly and there is no resistance from either of the spouses, you should have official approval from the court in no time. However, if your spouse does not agree to the terms or backs out at the last minute, or any other complication will require both parties to appear in court (as is the traditional way of doing things).
What Are the Risks Involved In Divorcing Online?
Some couples don’t experience getting divorced online. Sure, there is more paperwork that you have to do by yourself, but the leisure it provides seems a better deal to them, and they can work their case out without complications. However, if you feel your divorce is a bit more hostile and involves complicated matters, you should consider the risks that an online divorce involves. Here are the reasons that weigh down this service:
Even when both spouses want a divorce, and it seems simple, many complications can resurface along the way. If you have children with your spouse, you both need to form a custody plan and decide on alimony. However, deciding on shared child custody without legal assistance and court involvement can be a disaster as most parents only want their children to stay with them. If you and your spouse find your way around this, you have to decide on visitation. Child custodial and visitation matters should only be made in the child’s best interests, which the courts aim for. However, due to the lack of professional help, couples can create more problems for themselves by getting their personal feelings involved, ultimately damaging the children’s future.
Divorce Papers Are Legally Binding
Couples usually share various assets that must be divided during a divorce. These include a retirement funds account, joint debts, or other co-owned assets. When you have made up terms with your spouse regarding the division of the assets and the divorce is official. There are only a few things that you can still change, which include child custody arrangements, visitation, etc. However, there is a high risk that you might have signed for asset sharing without being fully aware. Or in disguise about what the terms are. This can harm your finances significantly, and if it is fixable, it might cost you a fortune.
Laws Vary According to States
The laws of separation vary in every state. While the documents you download from online divorce sites will provide the basic requirements you need to fill and submit. There is a high chance that the information in those documents will not be tailored according to your state requirements. This can lead you to misinformation. Which will cause you to lose significant time because your state’s court will reject your petition.
So, What Should I Do?
Online divorce can be convenient, saving you a lot of money and stress. However, not having a divorce lawyer to protect your best interest can cause more harm than good. If your marriage was reasonably recent, and you do not have children. Plus, you share significant assets with your partner or anything to lose, then you can apply for an online divorce. Factors such as child custody, business partnership, hostile relationship, or a long-term marriage are indicators that you should pursue a traditional divorce process and hire a divorce attorney for help.