Online divorce can be an excellent way to prepare for marriage dissolution for couples ready to separate amicably. Wherein, it does not matter whether they arrange a do-it-yourself divorce or seek legal assistance after the forms are prepared.
Lots of people in Michigan and all over the US prefer to facilitate divorce paperwork using online services. And recently, this option became particularly relevant due to lockdown restrictions.
However, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about the term “online divorce,” as well as for whom it is available, the benefits of this method, and whether the courts recognize it.
Here are five must-know facts about onlinemichigandivorce.com that answer all these questions.
1. Online Services Specialize in an Uncontested Divorce
Online divorce companies can offer a quick and inexpensive way to prepare for filing for divorce. However, the dissolution has to be amicable for this option to work.
Let’s consider what an uncontested divorce is and why the rate of cases that settle out of court is high.
Uncontested no-fault divorce is the simplest kind of dissolution of marriage. It implies that neither party is fighting the other, and neither party blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. To avoid litigation, the spouses must resolve all the potentially disputed issues, including child custody, property division, spousal support, etc., and sign a Settlement Agreement.
As for grounds for divorce established by state law, Michigan is a purely no-fault state. Thus, the petitioner (the spouse initiating the case) is not required to specify the reason for separation and prove the other spouse’s misconduct within the court proceeding.
To sum it all up, a peaceful approach typically allows getting a divorce more quickly than if the parties contest the case – of course, within Michigan Family Law and the mandatory waiting period.
Also, refusing to contest the case often makes it easier and more affordable to manage the divorce process. Rather than hiring a full-service lawyer, the couple can choose between various alternative dispute resolutions and legal services. At different stages of the process, they can seek help from internet divorce services, participate in the collaborative process or mediation, hire unbundled lawyers, or even try to arrange a DIY divorce without an attorney.
Compared to contesting the case, these alternatives to litigation often lower the cost of divorce (even though court filing fees remain the same).
2. Online Divorce Services vs. E-Filing
The term “online divorce” is widely used, but sometimes, there is some misunderstanding.
Michigan courts are gradually moving online and introducing e-filings through the MiFILE. This statewide electronic filing service provider sponsored by the State Court Administrative Office allows parties to apply for divorce over the internet and serve documents to the respondent.
On the contrary, online divorce form preparation websites (generally called online divorce services) do not provide services like applying for divorce online. These companies offer a fast and straightforward way to prepare the necessary divorce papers and fill them out following the Michigan courts’ requirements.
However, even though web divorce services are used before the actual start of the dissolution procedure, they can be very convenient for spouses arranging a do-it-yourself divorce. For a reasonable fee, users can complete divorce paperwork from the comfort of their home, avoid common mistakes, and save precious time.
3. Available for Couples With Children
Many people think that online divorce is only available for the simplest divorce cases and short marriages, but this belief is erroneous.
Of course, the spouses who have been married for a couple of years and have no marital property and children are likely to finalize their divorce more quickly and efficiently than spouses who have kids and joint assets. However, since online divorce only applies to preparing for the dissolution procedure, all couples filing for an uncontested divorce can take advantage of this option.
Online divorce is just as legitimate as completing legal paperwork with a lawyer or getting the forms from the clerk’s office.
Leading online divorce drafting services emphasize that they provide all the forms Michigan circuit courts may require and consider each couple’s individual circumstances. Besides, before registering, a user typically can check whether their case is qualified for an online divorce through a brief questionnaire.
The main requirement is that the divorce must be uncontested. The spouses must settle all the financial (assets, alimony, debts) and child-related issues (legal and physical custody, child support) through a Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan.
4. Not a Substitute for Legal Assistance
Online divorce websites are not eligible to provide legal advice.
Along with it, using online divorce drafting services does not prevent a person from seeking legal assistance.
While an attorney, counselor, or mediator helps the spouses settle their differences and reach an agreement, an online divorce service takes on bureaucratic issues. It ensures that all the case’s essential details are drawn up following court requirements.
The online divorce service’s support staff can only provide instructions concerning filling out the documents and not developing a divorce strategy or negotiating with the respondent.
Typically, lawyers and other divorce experts recommend refraining from a purely DIY divorce unless the case is simple enough (short marriage, the spouses do not have minor children, there are no significant assets, real estate, etc.).
5. How Online Divorce Works
Divorce form templates may vary from county to county, and they can seem tricky to complete for a person without a legal background.
And since any tiny mistake can cause the court to reject the papers and force the petitioner to re-start the process, paperwork assistance is welcomed.
Here is where online divorce comes into play. It helps to fill out all the needed documents with minimum effort from the comfort of your home. But how does it work?
- Next, the user visits the website and checks whether their case is qualified to be handled online by answering a few basic questions.
- If everything is OK, a user creates an account and completes another, more detailed online interview. It is designed to provide the system with all the necessary information about both spouses and the divorce itself (property division and financial matters, parenting arrangements, and any essential details and circumstances).
- This questionnaire allows the service to select and customize documents for the particular couple, following Michigan law and court requirements, just like a lawyer would do. Usually, the divorce forms’ preparation takes a couple of days, but some websites offer an expedited service for an additional fee.
- When the forms are ready, the user receives a notification and can download the ready-made documents immediately.
- And finally, to start an uncontested divorce in Michigan, the petitioner must print and sign these papers, then file them with the circuit court in the county where they or their spouse resides.