This article is intended for our US audience and is guest authored by Awais Ahmed, a divorce law expert.
The Internet plays an enormous role in nowadays love stories. Internet tools connect hearts (these days, about 40% of US couples first meet online), and just as easily help them separate.
Widely used now are Internet technologies at different stages of the divorce process.
For example, they cause a divorce. In one form or another, social networks (the behaviour of one spouse online, found messages, lies about the past, and so on) become the cause of weekly quarrels for 25% of couples. Wherein, most of these interviewed couples point their fingers to Facebook particularly.
And unfortunately, this percentage increases not slower than the number of couples who met online and got married. Perhaps the Internet just masters the balance of good and evil in the world? Anyway, the impact is significant.
Benefits of the Internet For Your Divorce Strategy
During a divorce proceeding itself, we can use internet communication to deal with conflict cases.
Sometimes, the court orders the spouses who fail to negotiate to communicate by email. Written communication allows to low tension and also, documenting the dialogue might be useful to ensure a more polite, calm, and, therefore, productive conversation. Otherwise, all the threats and insults you express can be used against you in trial. This is an extreme measure, but it really works. Often, the divorcing spouses just do not listen to each other, getting too emotional. To save time and achieve a result without being distracted by your opponent, it may be easier to express your thoughts in writing: fewer emotions – more sense.
One more way how the Internet helps in a divorce proceeding is seeking evidence. Social networks are the perfect source of finding evidence if you need to prove the spouse’s misconduct. In such cases, the lies and exaggerations in social networks (regarding their income, employment or anything else) often turn against them.
Besides, unlike wiretapping and recording, or installing spyware on the spouse’s laptop, obtaining information from a public domain like social media is entirely legal.
After they finalize the divorce, internet communication tools help to maintain contact of the child with the non-custodial parent or grandparents. Three of the US states (Utah, Wisconsin and Missouri) have already adopted so-called Virtual Visitation bills. This concept implies that long-distance parents (and other relatives in some cases) should remain actively involved in their kids’ lives through webcam software like Skype, IChat etc.
However, the Internet can not only affect particular stages of a modern divorce process but also transform the whole procedure making it easier and quicker. It is about the online divorce itself.
Online Divorce. Avoiding Courts
While putting aside the circumstances and peculiarities of some separate divorce suit, each divorce process (even the simplified one) cannot do without two essential steps:
- filling out the papers, and
- applying them with the court.
Nowadays, you can deal with both these challenges online. Let’s find out how.
Divorce papers preparation
Online divorce drafting services are the companies that help to prepare the divorce paperwork over the Internet. No need to go to the court clerk’s office, no need to provide time in your schedule, no need to overpay the lawyers for an uncontested divorce. Now, to have your divorce papers completed, you should just log into the website and respond online questionnaire. There are plenty of similar companies and you can choose any you want, regardless of your state of residency. The operating principle of all such businesses is about the same, and the cost of the service typically varies between $150-300.
The system analyzes the data you’ve provided an online interview and picks the necessary divorce forms in accordance with the Family Law of your state, and other conditions and peculiarities of a certain marriage dissolution case. Usually, the user receives the mail with completed divorce forms within just two days, and need not to worry whether everything is filled out correctly (surely, if it is about a reliable company. So please avoid scam and read the reviews to choose the perfect).
E-filing of legal documents becomes more and more prevalent within the US federal courts, though in cases of family law, e-filing remains limited in some states. Anyway, check if your particular state, county, and court recognize e-filing system for divorce since this option is extremely convenient.
- Even if your divorce is uncontested and simple, it still requires about 15 different papers, forms, documents and copies. This amount is even more significant for cases involving a division of marital property or child custody issues. It seems to be a total waste of paper, while there is a more sustainable option.
- E-filing system provides you with permanent access to all the files related to your case free of charge. If you need some copy, you do not need to request it at the court or clerk’s office, wasting your time and paying for each print.
- Using the e-filing system for your divorce, you do not have to go to the clerk’s office at all. What the good news for all the people who hate waiting in those queues and interacting with the bureaucratic institutions! In modern-day life, people become more and more adjusted to online procedures. They get used to e-banking, online payments, shopping, booking and so on, so the necessity to go to an actual office and sort out the things with office staff (let’s be honest, often busy or impatient) is definitely something they would like to avoid.
After preparing the Petition for Divorce along with the other needed forms (no matter, whether you got the forms in the court or resorted to the online divorce service), you must sign the papers and save them as PDF.
Then you should register with one of the e-filing providers (some state provide the list of approved ones on their government websites) and point out all the requested data concerning your divorce case.
After that, you need to apply your signed divorce documents with the system and pay the fee by credit card.
The filing process is ON. Further, the customer receives the confirmation from the electronic filing system of their state that the Petition is submitted. The final step: the e-filing system forwards the Petition and other forms but with the court stamp. This is actually the only copy you must print. They need it to serve the second spouse with the paperwork, though most states allow the serving process via email as well.