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 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.