If you think filing for divorce online seems like an appealing option, you are not alone. More and more companies are offering “online divorce” services to meet this increased demand for couples seeking a cheap, impersonal alternative.
But, is getting divorced online a good idea? More specifically, is it a good idea for you?
When it Might Make Sense to File for Divorce Online
Using an online service to file for divorce in California can be a viable option in certain, limited circumstances. If you pay them a fee, these providers will only help you get a divorce. However, the fact that a service provider offers an “easier, less costly” divorce option or a “100% court approval guarantee” should not be your only consideration when deciding whether it makes sense to get a divorce online. At a minimum, you should not file for divorce online unless:
- You understand what is involved in the divorce process;
- The service provider is reputable and has a consistent record of securing enforceable divorce orders in San Diego County, California; and,
- You do not have children, neither spouse is seeking alimony, and you are confident that there are no questions about the ownership or distribution of separate and marital property.
If you have any questions, or if you are not sure about any aspect of your divorce, you should speak with an experienced attorney.
Reasons Not to Get an Online Divorce
In addition, there are certain circumstances where it will clearly not be in your best interests to file for divorce online. As suggested above, online service providers should only be used for simple, uncontested divorces (and even then, getting a divorce online still may not be your best option). If any of the following describe your personal circumstances, it will be important to have the advice and representation of an experienced divorce lawyer to help protect your interests in your divorce:
- You and/or Your Spouse Have Children. If you and your spouse have children together or either of you have children from a prior relationship, you will want legal representation. Dealing with child custody and child support requires a thorough understanding of California’s divorce laws, and you certainly do not want to make mistakes that could affect your children’s wellbeing or your ability to spend as much time with them as possible.
- You and/or Your Spouse Own a Business. Dealing with business ownership in a California divorce can be extremely challenging as well. There are numerous factors that go into determining each spouse’s interest in a family-owned business, and what your company ownership documents say will not necessarily be determinative.
- You and/or Your Spouse Are (or Were) in the Military. From retirement benefits to custody rights and the impact of deployment, military officers (active and retired) and their spouses face a number of unique issues when it comes to getting divorced.
- You and/or Your Spouse Have Retirement Accounts. Pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other defined contribution and defined benefit plans raise unique issues in the divorce context as well. Whether you need to protect your retirement assets or you need to make sure you are set up to receive distributions from your spouse’s account, this is another key area where it is crucial to have a trusted advocate on your side.
- You and/or Your Spouse Have Significant Assets. In any high-net-worth divorce, experienced legal representation is critical. From protecting your non-marital assets to dealing with spousal support and complex marital property division, you simply cannot afford to try to go through your divorce alone.
- You and Your Spouse Signed a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. Finally, if you and your spouse signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, this could have drastic implications for the outcome of your divorce. Or, the entire agreement could be unenforceable. To understand the implications of your prenup or postnup, you will need to speak with a qualified attorney.
Richard M. Renkin | Divorce Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist in North County, CA
Richard M. Renkin is a North County divorce attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist who has nearly 30 years of experience representing divorcing spouses in California. If you would like more information about the issues involved in your divorce or the limitations of filing for divorce online, please call 619-299-7100 or request a consultation online today.