Online divorce has been gaining popularity across the US in the last decade among couples who want to prepare for the dissolution of marriage as quickly as possible and with less effort. Last year, this option became particularly relevant because of the pandemic.
In this regard, it's time to find out everything you need to know about online divorce and dispel the misunderstanding that exists about this term. What is online divorce? For whom is this method? Is it actually possible to complete a divorce online?
Let's consider six essential facts about web divorce and the information necessary to choose the best of the many available document drafting services.
1. It is not the Same as E-Filing
Online divorce should not be confused with an application for divorce online.
Though at present, Michigan courts are gradually moving towards e-filings through the MiFILE system. This option may not be available in all Michigan courts yet. Thus, we cannot speak about filing for divorce and getting a divorce over the internet as a common way to arrange a dissolution of marriage.
Instead, the term online divorce refers to the preparation of the relevant forms. It is a quick and inexpensive way to gather the necessary legal forms and fill them out from the comfort of your home, without an attorney or attending the courthouse.
Typically, completing divorce documents with the help of an online paperwork preparation service involves:
- choosing a platform;
- registering at the website;
- and answering a list of questions concerning the case.
The user's answers allow the system to create a unique set of documents customized following Michigan family law and specific county requirements. Individual circumstances of the case, including grounds for divorce
, child custody arrangements, alimony issues, etc., also come into play.
Many reliable companies provide their clients with prepared printable forms that are ready for signing. However, the spouse initiating the case still has to file them with the circuit court personally or through MiFILE.
When submitting divorce papers, the petitioner must pay the court filing fees (between $175 and $250 in Michigan). The filing fee is mandatory (unless the petitioner is qualified for a waiver due to financial hardship). And this payment is separate from the online divorce service fee. Please don't miss this fact while planning ahead for the cost of divorce.
2. Only for Couples Seeking an Uncontested Divorce
Online services may be the way to go if a divorce case is uncontested.
A no-fault uncontested divorce is the most straightforward kind, meaning that neither spouse is fighting. The parties must reach an agreement about the essential terms of their separation, including financial and child-related issues.
And considering that Michigan is a purely no-fault divorce state, neither spouse needs to specify the marriage breakup's actual cause and prove the other spouse is at fault within the court proceeding.
Thus, refusing to contest the case, the couple can avoid long-drawn litigation and have more scope to manage the whole process. For example, in an uncontested divorce, the parties can often do without a high-priced full-service lawyer. Instead, online divorce and several affordable alternatives become available, including:
- flat-fee uncontested divorce representation;
- collaborative law process;
- divorce mediation;
- do-it-yourself divorce, etc.
3. Negotiate a Divorce Settlement in Advance
A written settlement agreement is an essential part of an amicable divorce in Michigan.
The law does not require the spouses to hire an attorney to draft it, but it is highly recommended. It is vital that this settlement agreement is detailed, includes everything that it should, and is considered equitable according to Michigan laws.
Voluntarily entered into between the spouses, this contract regulates the following:
- property division;
- child custody;
- child support;
- spousal support.
As each couple is unique and has various issues, this list is approximate. But in any case, the document must be signed by both parties and presented to the judge for approval.
Using online divorce services for example onlineindianadivorce.com
, the petitioner can get their legal forms completed fast.
Thus, they have a chance to file the papers with the court and start the case sooner.
The minimum possible time needed to finalize an uncontested divorce in Michigan is 60 days due to the waiting period. Given this fact, the spouses can end their marriage in the shortest terms if they negotiate a settlement agreement in advance.
4. Available for All Separating Amicably
Contrary to popular belief, couples who have minor children or joint property also can take advantage of online divorce services or even arrange a DIY divorce.
Online divorce is just as legitimate as preparing for divorce with an attorney or getting the papers in the clerk's office by yourself. Many paperwork drafting services emphasize that they provide all the necessary divorce forms, including:
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit;
- Friend of the Court Case Questionnaire;
- Verified Statement and Application for IV-D Services;
- Request for Certificate of Military Service Status;
- and other forms in addition to initial divorce papers that Michigan courts may require in various circumstances.
As mentioned above, the only requirement is that the divorce must be uncontested, and the parties must settle all disputed issues of their separation out of court. Besides, online divorce platforms usually offer a brief questionnaire designed to check whether the user qualifies for the document preparation services.
5. Legal Aid May Still be Needed
Typically, online divorce services are not qualified to provide legal advice, so they should not be confused with law firms.
Internet divorce companies only ensure completing the divorce forms. The customer support team can provide instructions concerning the filing process, but not create a divorce strategy, consult on potential risks, or negotiate with the second spouse.
The divorce can be considered simple if the marriage was short, the spouses do not have minor children, significant assets, marital property, and neither party is seeking alimony. In all other cases, some kind of legal aid is recommended.
If the spouses are ready to negotiate and look for mutually beneficial solutions, they may resort to mediation or collaborative divorce. Suppose they need some assistance to handle a specific part of their case. They may hire an unbundled attorney or other specialists (real estate appraisers, accountants, CPA, insurance advisers, tax experts, etc.).
Along with online document preparation, such an approach may help save money (compared to litigation and attorneys' hourly rates) but act responsibly and avoid unnecessary risks.
6. Save Time and Energy for More Important Tasks
Even though spouses can get free divorce forms in the local court clerk's office, using online divorce services may save a lot of time.
Advanced online divorce companies
usually take on all the bureaucracy issues, from selecting the forms to filling them out according to the case's peculiarities. The customer can get the ready-made documents by email within a couple of days after completing an online interview.
There is no need to take any time off from work or think about unnecessary meetings. And in our current situation, it is a very reasonable choice to minimize time spent outside and in public places.
Besides, divorce law can be complicated for a person without a legal background, so even selecting the necessary documents may take a while, not to mention the forms themselves, which can be tricky to complete.
Once the papers are entered into court, they cannot be altered. So, a petitioner has to start all over again if there are some mistakes.
To sum up, entrusting the legal forms' preparation to professionals helps parties to avoid spending extra time on the divorce paperwork and undue stress. There are so many things that require your attention when coping with a separation! Convenient access to the divorce forms and the opportunity to cut the red tape and work at your own pace allow spouses to devote more time to negotiate the settlement, their emotional health, and their children.