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Online divorce in Texas

 
  By : , Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India       30.1.2019         Mail Now
 

One can consider current high divorce rates as a problem; one can view them as proof of the freedom and rights of each spouse, but anyway, tolerance to divorce is obviously growing in the modern world. For some, this is an unexpected, emotionally difficult and almost tragic event, for someone divorce is a long-awaited new stage in life and a conscious attempt to correct the mistakes of the past. But even for them, divorce is rarely simple, because even when it is emotionally simple, this is still a complicated bureaucratic procedure.

Fortunately, though the forms, requirements, and rules of divorce procedure are constantly changing (sometimes, becoming more and more complicated), the new ways to make the process less time-consuming and more straightforward are appearing as well.

Have you heard such a term as "online divorce"? What do you think about it? Is this a way to save some precious time and money or is it just the same notorious red tape but in a slightly different form? Let's sort it out together.

While speaking of online divorce, it's usually implied either electronic filing for divorce or the service which provides the needed divorce forms and documents to be prepared and reviewed online. Both these methods may be used separately or together. They are not alternatives for each other but can be helpful in different stages of a divorce process. Online divorce services are the companies (websites) which help with selecting and filling out the necessary forms according to the particular situation and jurisdiction. E-filing means a way to file and deliver your already prepared court forms over the Internet.

E-filing

E-filing of legal documents is not new in the federal courts but now it is gradually spreading to the judicial system of certain US states. Electronic filing is especially popular in cases of family law, and in particular divorce cases. In Texas, e-filing for divorce is allowed, but not every court is on board with the program. So if you are interested in e-filing, then, first of all, you need to study the residency requirements and find out in which county and in which court you must submit your petition, and check whether the given circuit court recognizes e-filing. You should notice that in less populated areas, e-filings may not be accepted.

If you are eligible for e-filing for divorce with your circuit court you definitely should consider this option as e-filing has several significant advantages:

Fewer papers

Even an uncontested divorce usually requires a lot of papers and documents. On average, divorcing spouses submit about 5-10 papers, and this amount is bigger if they have minor children or property to divide during a divorce. Multiply this by three (a copy for you, a copy for your spouse, and another copy for a court's file) — a pretty impressive amount of "wastepaper", isn't it? And given the number of divorces in the US — even a real environmental threat! In addition, tons of papers in the courts' archives literally destroy the courts' buildings. It may sound ridiculous, but courthouses in many counties complain about sagging floors because of rooms filled with files.

Comfortable access

If you file for divorce with the court directly and using paper copies, then if you need to get copies of documents from your file (for example, the Final Decree of Divorce, etc.), you will have to request them by mail or in person at the court clerk's office. You will spend time and pay for each page of the photocopy. The electronic filing system, in its turn, implies that you get automatic (free and permanent) access to all the documents relating to your case.

No need to attend the clerk office

Today, for many people, the opportunity to avoid direct interaction with the court clerk office seems like a rather pleasant prospect. We are accustomed to online shopping, e-banking, and other benefits of modern civilization, and the need to go to the office, stand in line, and communicate with busy and sometimes impatient office staff may not seem like the most pleasant routine.

If your circuit court allows e-filing and you are interested in this method, then here are the basic steps you should take to file for divorce in Texas without leaving your home:

Create an Original Petition for Divorce. This is the form that actually starts your divorce process. It is needed for telling the Court what the Petitioner wants to be ordered in the Final Decree. You can get the necessary form in your county court or use the help of one of the online-divorce services, which may prepare the rest of the needed forms as well (read more about this option below). Accordingly, you can retype the document and fill it in by hand, or save the completed petition in PDF format.

Print a copy of your petition and sign. A signed copy needs to be scanned and saved in PDF format.

Register with an electronic filing service provider. You can choose among them, but for the customer's comfort, Texas’s official website gives a full list of approved providers. This doesn't mean that other providers are prohibited, but If you register with any one of the listed it will automatically register you with the state electronic filing system also. Log on with the service provider you’ve chosen. It will ask you for identifying information about your case and which court and county you want to file with. Then, log on with the relevant service provider, pointing out some necessary information about your divorce case including which court and county you want to file with.

Download and submit your divorce petition to the service provider. Your service provider may ask you to provide credit card information, what is needed to cover the commission. After that, you may get confirmation that your provider has a petition to apply. The Texas electronic filing system should also send you a similar email.

When the electronic filing system of Texas returns to you a copy sent by e-mail, but with the court stamp on it, save this copy. Please print this document. This is the copy you need to serve your spouse in order to notify him/her about the divorce case.

Online divorce service

There are a lot of websites providing online divorce drafting services. Some of them work throughout the US, while some only in Texas, and some in certain counties. However, the operating principle of all these companies is about the same.

As a rule, the user has to answer several questions of the online questionnaire. It typically requires the data about the state, county, and circuit court in which he/she is going to file for divorce, as well as some details of the case, like whether the couple have any minor children, is any spouse going to seek for alimony, is there any property that spouses plan to divide in a divorce, and so on.

Contrary to popular belief, not only couples who do not have children or property can use such online-divorce services. The difficulty lies just in the fact that the divorce must be uncontested, meaning that the spouses should settle all the disputed issues of their case out of court and create an official Marital Agreement. But all the necessary Texas divorce forms and attachments such as Income Withholding Order for Support (needed to determine a child support), Conservatorship form, Health Insurance Order for Children, Property Owned by Children form, and many others can be also provided by one of the online-divorce service even if your case is not so simple.

After registering on the site and providing the necessary information, the user pays for the service (on average, in Texas, it may cost between $150-300) and in a day or two, he/she may receive a ready-made package of documents. Some sites provide reviewing of completed forms, and some fill out the forms for you, some companies provide paralegals' help. Although such sites are usually not eligible to provide legal advice, help with more “technical” issues like terms, deadlines or filing rules still may turn out to be very useful.

In Texas, the popularity of online divorce is increasing rapidly, as such a service really helps save a lot of time. As we have already mentioned, even as for the simplest divorce case, the Petitioner (the Plaintiff, the spouse who initiates a divorce) must fill out a significant number of forms, which, of course, can take quite a long time. Besides, the rules for filling out the court forms are very strict, and the slightest mistake can lead to the fact that the divorce case will have to start from the very beginning. A little help won't hurt, right?

Some people hire attorneys just for this purpose, even if the divorce is uncontested, but lawyers' fees are much more expensive than online-divorce service fees. So why to pay more? The divorce documents provided by online divorce service are automatically adapted to your case basing on the info you've submitted in an online interview. The rules of your county, your children-related agreements, your income, property and other factors of your case are taken into account, and you do not need to search for all the information and nuances yourself. You get prepared, ready-to-print-and-sign forms without long periods of completion or delivery, and also, many companies offer a refund if the court does not approve the forms.

Divorce is never easy, both emotionally, financially, and practically, but if you can do this process a little bit more straightforward you should better consider all the possible options.




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