If you’re getting a fairly simple divorce but are worried about the cost and emotional toll of divorce, you might be interested in the option of using an online divorce service. Can you file for divorce online in Texas, though?
The short answer is yes. However, you won’t be able to file for divorce online if your case is contested. Additionally, this might not be the most beneficial route to take, depending on the specifics of your case.
Yes, you can file for divorce online in Texas. This can be a viable solution for couples that are looking for a simple way to get a DIY divorce without the help of an attorney.
Online services can help to prepare the forms that need to be filed with the court in your county. Each county has its own rules, meaning that some might allow you to have the service file the divorce paperwork online, while others might require that you file them in person regardless of the fact that they were prepared online.
Divorce is notoriously expensive and stressful, and an online divorce can reduce the cost and simplify the process. If you hire a lawyer in a divorce case, the average cost in Texas ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. The average cost of using an online service falls between $139 to $500.
Another reason that people seek an online divorce in Texas is that it can give them greater control over the timeline. Instead of needing to work around the packed schedule of a busy divorce attorney, the online process lets individuals go through the process at their own pace.
All that being said, online divorce isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. If you are a good candidate, though, it can save you a lot of stress and thousands of dollars.
Ok, so we’ve established that you can get an online divorce in Texas and why some people choose to go this route. The next logical question, then, is should you file for divorce online?
Online divorce might sound like an appealing option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good choice in every situation. Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, you might be well advised to hire an attorney and take a more traditional route to divorce.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you might not want to file for divorce online in Texas.
Are you and your spouse unable to come to an agreement about every aspect of the divorce, including the division of property and matters involving your children?
Are you or your spouse considering filing for a fault-based divorce rather than a no-fault divorce?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, you would be filing for a contested divorce. Unless you’re willing to attend mediation or otherwise work out solutions on your own before filing, you won’t be able to file for an online divorce because contested divorces require that discovery and potential litigation in a courtroom occur. If your divorce is contested, you will most likely want to work with a lawyer.
Online divorces are only suitable for uncontested divorces.
If your spouse is MIA, you won’t be able to file for an uncontested divorce.
Instead, you’ll have to take the matter to court and seek a default divorce.
Online divorce services are great if the dissolution of your marriage is pretty straightforward, but you won’t be able to get the same type of legal advice you’d get from an experienced attorney. The stakes in a divorce are simply too high to avoid getting valuable legal advice when you need it simply to try and make the process a little easier.
Mistakes can be incredibly costly in a divorce and could result in jeopardizing your finances, relationship with your child, inheritance, and more.
If you think that your spouse is going to try to use sneaky divorce tactics like hiding assets, you’re going to want to enlist help from an experienced lawyer. If your spouse is going to play dirty, you won’t want to enter the fight alone.
Online divorce wouldn’t be the right choice if family violence were involved in the marriage. A court will not be satisfied by negotiations between two spouses when one is abusing the other. Beyond that, their interest in protecting the best interest of any children involved means that you will want to get a lawyer and avoid filing online.
You also shouldn’t get an online divorce if you and your spouse don’t have an amicable relationship.
The chances of things going sour after you’ve begun filing are too high, and you should instead seek the help of an attorney.
For an in-depth look into the online divorce steps in the Lone Star State, check out our guide on how to file for divorce online in Texas. For now, let’s look at a brief overview of the steps involved to give you a sense of what the process entails.
There are two primary requirements you’ll need to meet in order to get divorced online in Texas. The first is the residency requirement, and the second is that the divorce is uncontested.
Local counties might have their own requirements for filing for an online divorce, so you’ll want to visit your local court either online or in person to learn about their specific requirements.
If you qualify for an online divorce and have decided that this is the right course of action for you, the next step is to select an online divorce service. There are a number of options out there, including:
You’ll want to be thorough when researching which service to use, as a number have a lot of bad reviews outlining the negative experiences of people that used the service.
Depending on which county you are filing in and which service you select, they might be able to file online for you. Otherwise, you will need to print out the papers and file them in person, through the mail, or through an eFile system. Check with the courthouse about what method is required in your county.
If you are filing for divorce and not your spouse, you will be the one that fills out the initial paperwork. A good online divorce service will walk you through the forms step-by-step.
In order to start the divorce process, you will need to file at least the Original Divorce Petition and the Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship.
If you file the paperwork on your own, you’ll be responsible for the filing fee. Some services will include the price of the filing fee as a part of the service package. If you’re unable to afford the fee, you can submit a fee waiver application when you file your petition to request that your court fees are waived.
Now it’s time to provide notice to your spouse. You can either hire a process server (contact your county to determine who can legally perform this role), or your spouse can sign a waiver of service only form. This is a form that states that they have received copies of the divorce paperwork and don’t need to be served formally.
There is a sixty-day waiting period beginning after the day that the divorce papers are filed, including weekends and holidays. This is required in all but a few very specific exceptional cases.
Depending on your circumstances and the county you are filing in, you might have to go into court for the finalization hearing. You might only have to file an Affidavit for Prove-Up, but this is often only an option if there aren’t any children involved in the marriage.
Even if you do have to go to court, the hearing should be relatively quick and only require that you give a small testimony. Finally, the judge will sign the final decree of divorce, which finalizes the dissolution of your marriage.
You can find many more useful articles about divorce on our Texas family law blog.