Getting a traditional divorce with lawyers is incredibly time-consuming and expensive. Filing yourself, online, amiably, can save money, time, conflict, heartache, and drama.
With the traditional divorce route, with attorneys: Not only do you have to pay an attorney, lawyer, mediator, and court fees, you also have to consider the lost time at work, cost of childcare, extra transportation, parking fees, and a court-appropriate outfit!
That is why divorce attorneys charge retainers of thousands of dollars, and hourly rates that start at $100 can go beyond $1,000 per hour. While divorce and family lawyers are needed in cases of high-conflict, custody disputes, when lots of money is in question, abuse or untreated addiction, there are alternatives that make sense for mature adults ready to move on.
Do-it-yourself/online divorce companies help you save time and money, keep divorce amicable and low-conflict and get on with your life already!
Our #1 Online Divorce Service is CompleteCase provides all the legal documents you need for a divorce in your state, detailed instructions for filling them out and filing them online, for a total fee of $299. You can also store your documents online, share them with your spouse or an attorney (for final review), and know the company has an A Better Business Bureau rating.
Keep reading to learn more about DIY online therapy options:
- Are online divorces legal?
- How legitimate are online divorces?
- How do online divorces work?
- How to file for divorce online yourself
- CompleteCase: Online divorce review
- Rocket Lawyer: Online divorce review
- JustAnswer: Online divorce advice review
- When you should consider an amicable divorce
- When you should consider an annulment
- How do I file for divorce with an attorney?
First, answers to common questions about the cost of divorce:
Are online divorces legal?
Yes! Most states allow at least some of the divorce papers to be filed online, as well as download the divorce forms from your state or county court's website.
How legitimate are online divorces?
Again, online divorces are just as legitimate and just as good of an idea as filing in-person at the courthouse, if your state allows it.
How do online divorces work?
Typically, either you, or an online divorce service like CompleteCase or others described below, will download and prepare the documents according to your state guidelines.
But before that, there must be a discussion — typically several discussions — between you and your ex-husband or ex-wife to discuss and agree upon many points of the end of the marriage. These agreements are then summarized in a settlement agreement, and filed with the court.
Points on a settlement agreement often include:
- Time-sharing of children
- Guidelines and rules for co-parenting
- Child support
- Child custody
- Coparent plan
- Coparent communication
- Coparent schedule
- Coparent calendar
- Use of a co-parenting app
- Division of any assets, including the family home, jewelry retirement accounts and other investments
- Division of divorce debt
How to file for divorce online yourself
Increasingly, online services like those listed below, as well as the huge trove of quality online information and technology improvements in the courts means that in many cases, couples can quickly move through a divorce:
- Agree on terms of the divorce.
- Create legal documents online.
- Sign and have notarized the legal divorce papers.
- Either file the papers themselves, hire a local attorney to file the divorce papers in the courts, or some of the online, DIY divorce products include filing in their fee.
Where to find a notary to get your divorce papers notarized
Increasingly, local and state courts were allowing for electronic and digital signatures, as well as online notary services to help expedite divorces and other legal matters that could be filed online. These efforts only accelerated during Covid-19 orders-in-place that made it difficult if not illegal to interact with a notary, attorneys or your ex.
To notarize divorce papers, typically you simply either use a notary public near you through your attorney, court, or a local notary — there is usually one on staff at your bank or credit union, local post office, AAA (a free benefit to members), UPS store, or a friend. I always use my neighbor Jill.
For online notary service, you can use Notarize.com, though at $25 per document, it is very expensive compared with a notary public fee of $2 to $5 per document at other locations, or, in my case, the cost of a glass of wine for Jill.
Before you hire an online notary service, or sign your divorce papers digitally or electronically online, check to make sure that your state accepts these online services.
CompleteCase: Online divorce review
CompleteCase is a three-step DIY divorce service online that helps couples skip the drawn-out court process of divorce.
How to sign up for CompleteCase
The first step is to answer a series of questions in an online questionnaire:
- Go to CompleteCase.com
- Choose your state (include the state where your spouse lives if you two are currently separated).
- Answer a few questions about your spouse, your divorce, and whether you have any kids younger than 18 from the marriage. You should be able to complete this part in a matter of minutes.
Once the question portion is done, CompleteCase uses your responses to fill out the state-specific documents you'll need to make your divorce official. The last step is to print out the documents and submit them at your local courthouse. The service is exclusively for uncontested cases, AKA amicable divorces, so if there are disputes around child support, spousal support, custody, or shared assets, one of these other services will be your best bet in the DIY space — though a lawyer is likely needed as well.
The basic CompleteCase package costs $299, but that does not take into consideration any court fees you may be responsible for during the divorce process. It only guarantees one month of the service for this price. If you prefer a more convenient level of service, you can pay an extra $299 for the VIP Level, in which CompleteCase's team will get your spouse's signature, send them the necessary forms, and file your completed documents with the court for you.
CompleteCase.com has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2013, and has an A rating with a composite score of 4.3 out of 5 stars. They've also been covered by well-known news programs including Good Morning America and the Today Show, and it’s been featured in USA Today, Time Magazine and the L.A. Times. The company promises complete anonymity and privacy through McAfee, a secure site verified by GoDaddy.com, and secure encryption of documents through Verisign.
- The process is simple and straightforward.
- Complete Case can provide instructions for how to waive your court filing fee, if possible in your state.
- They will actually file your paperwork at the courthouse for you, though it costs extra. Most other services don't even offer this!
- CompleteCase, like many other DIY divorce services, does not offer legal advice. If you need legal help, you'll need to seek representation elsewhere.
- You get one month to complete the process, or else you'll have to extend the service and pay more.
Read our CompleteCase review here.
Final word on CompleteCase
CompleteCase is a solid option in the DIY divorce space, and stands above the rest with its option to file papers on your behalf. The one-month time limit can be constricting for some — or motivating for others.
Sign up for CompleteCase now >>
Rocket Lawyer: Online divorce review
Rocket Lawyer is a source for legal documents, as well as legal advice, that costs a fraction of what traditional lawyers charge to create, fill out and file the same documents. Especially if you do not have a complicated divorce, were married a short time, or have few assets to divide, this can be a low-cost, easy-to-use resource.
How does Rocket Lawyer work?
With Rocket Lawyer, you pay for access to legal help and resources for many topics, including divorce. Using a simple question-and-answer format, Rocket Lawyer helps you understand and complete every form quickly and painlessly.
Rocket Lawyer offers many of its online resources for free. You don't have to pay anything to ask legal questions via online chat, or through email. You can also try their online law services for free for seven days and get access to their entire library of legal documents, free 30-minute consultations on each new legal issue you have, and quick legal advice from Rocket Lawyer's on-call lawyer network, plus more.
A premium Rocket Lawyer membership costs $39.99 per month, or you can purchase legal documents and legal help a la carte instead. And if you have a complicated situation and wind up needing an in-person lawyer, you'll get a 40% discount through Rocket Lawyer as a monthly member. Plus, Rocket Lawyer is Better Business Bureau accredited, with a rating of A+.
- The company offers a variety of legal help, from documents to quick legal advice from real lawyers, so it's great for many circumstances.
- Rocket Lawyer keeps its customer's information and data under lock and key with encryption and other security measures.
- Free 7-day premium membership trial
- Rocket Lawyer is a bit pricier than its competitors in the DIY divorce space unless you can resolve your divorce quickly.
- The 30-minute consultations, though free, can only be used to answer one specific legal question per call.
Thanks to the trove of free information, low cost and personalized, discounted legal services, Rocket Lawyer is a great hybrid service that can make sense for many divorcing couples.
JustAnswer: Online divorce advice review
This one is just as straightforward as it sounds: JustAnswer provides answers to family law questions, as well as tons of other subjects. What sets them apart from other question-and-answer forums is that they hire experts in many diverse fields to provide answers to these questions rather than crowdsourcing the answers. The result? Credible information on topics that really matter, like DIY divorce.
How does JustAnswer work for legal divorce help?
This process is incredibly simple and surprisingly advanced. Just choose a category or a type of expert from the homepage. With options like tax, finance, mechanics, doctors, vets, electricians, plumbers, you’ll be hard pressed not to find a qualified pro to help answer your question. From there, you’ll be taken to page where you have several options: you can either peruse the list of hyper-specific topics within the index, or – for even faster help – you can just type your question or topic of interest into the chatbox.
Here’s the icing on the cake: a real human replies within 8 minutes, guaranteed! Your information is kept 100% anonymous, which is nice, and the service is available 24/7. I inquired about online divorce advice (you can call directly on the phone if you prefer) and info via JustAnswer’s chatbox late one night near midnight. Even though it was getting late, I was greeted by a lawyer’s assistant, who responded with a couple of questions, like “Which steps have you already taken?” “Have any papers been filed in family court?” “What state are you in?” and, lastly, “Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?”
From there, she sent me to a screen where I would need to put down a $5 deposit to secure my expert’s time. Right away, I was also informed that my total would be $31 – if you’ve ever wasted tons of time filling out forms online, only to find out that the price was WAY too high after all, you’ll understand how refreshing this is! The “good faith” deposit is fully refundable and once you’ve gotten ahold of your expert, you can ask as many follow-up questions as you need. If, for any reason, you’re not satisfied with the help you receive, you’ll receive a 100% money-back guarantee.
Is JustAnswer a credible source?
JustAnswer vets their experts using an 8-step Expert Quality Process and verifies their licensure and credentials. Experts are also regularly given performance reviews by JustAnswer as well as evaluated by every person they help. On top of that, their profile displays their credentials, how many people they’ve helped on JustAnswer, and their percentage of positive feedback – all visible before you ever pay a cent.
JustAnswer has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been positively reviewed by CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Good Morning America, Today Show and NBC to name a few.
- When they say “24-hour support,” they mean it. You can find a real customer service rep to help answer your legal questions any time, even at 2 a.m.!
- The price of a legal expert at JustAnswer is way more affordable than at some law office.
- Ask as many follow-up questions as you need with your legal expert.
- JustAnswer is really more of a legal advice resource than a divorce service. They don't provide paperwork or any official court documents, but if you download those online, they can help clarify any confusing elements you can't figure out.
Final word on JustAnswer
JustAnswer is perfect for the divorcing couple who just needs clarification on a couple of legal things, rather than being walked through every step. The price point is affordable and the service is outstanding. Ask a JustAnswer family attorney any question now >>
My Divorce Papers: Online divorce review
My Divorce Papers exist to help couples file for divorce quickly and easily. My Divorce Papers guarantees that couples seeking a divorce can get started in under an hour.
Signing up for My Divorce Papers
It's free to create an account, and you don't have to pay a dime until you're almost finished with the process and are ready to file. Once you've created your account, you can select from divorce, annulment, or a legal separation. Answer a set of questions about yourself and your spouse, and the division of your property, child custody and support, and any assets you two may share.
Unlike some other divorce sites, My Divorce Papers does not require you to file an uncontested divorce. Once you're done answering these questions, My Divorce Papers will plug your answers directly into a custom set of legally binding forms that adhere to your specific state's laws and regulations for divorce. If you need help splitting up your assets fairly, My Divorce Papers offers a free consultation with a certified divorce lawyer in your area.
There's no obligation to use their services after the free consultation. You'll also receive a dedicated account manager to walk you through every step of your divorce process, a parenting plan for child custody agreements, and use of calculators to divvy up your assets according to law. Plus, you'll get access to a huge library of online divorce resources. My Divorce Papers costs $159 to fill out all of your divorce forms for you. You can also receive a 100% refund if, for some reason, your court does not accept them. It's important to factor in any court filing fees into your bottom line (these vary by state).
- My Divorce Papers fills our your divorce documents for you.
- You get your own personal account manager to help answer specific questions.
- No need to file an uncontested divorce to use My Divorce Papers.
- My Divorce Papers has a BBB rating of B and has been accredited since 2011.
- Quick process – My Divorce Papers says many of their customers complete the necessary documents within an hour!
- The $159 price point excludes court filing fees.
- Factors like state-specific laws and regulations can slow down the process.
- The process lacks a face-to-face quality that some find appealing during such a stressful and difficult time.
Final word on My Divorce papers
My Divorce Papers offers many quality resources and a speedy document-filing process, along with great customer support. It's a good option for those looking to divorce quickly and relatively easily.
Nolo: Online divorce review
Nolo is a publishing company that specializes in offering legal help via ebooks, online forms, hardcopy books and software. They specialize in DIY divorce.
What does Nolo do?
The process is simple: buy and download the state-specific divorce documents, fill them out, sign with your partner, and file them at your local courthouse. Divorce, estate planning, and other legal questions can be looked up online using Nolo's DIY expansive network of legal information, DIY guides and ebooks, and their lawyer directory (if you do choose to go that route or just need more advice).
Nolo's popular book and e-book, Divorce & Money, is $27 for the bundle. This book is a guide to help couples make informed financial decisions during divorce, covering topics like dividing debts, settling alimony, divorce negotiations, avoiding tax problems, handling child support and custody, and reducing risks to your investments during your divorce. And you don't need to speak legalese, either – everything is written in layman's terms. Nolo keeps their guides, information and products up-to-date with laws and tax details.
Nolo has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, although they are not accredited.
- Nolo has a great reputation among many leading publications and customer reviews.
- The cost of learning the necessary legal aspects of divorce with Nolo's resources and products is much less expensive than hiring a lawyer or attorney.
- Nolo offers a comprehensive library of easy-to-digest information about divorce, including videos, podcasts, and articles.
- The company can help you connect with one of its network attorneys, should you need to hire a lawyer.
- You'll do the legwork yourself. Nolo only provides the information to help you make the right legal decisions.
- Nolo isn't a substitute for a lawyer, as with any DIY program.
The final word on Nolo
LegalZoom: Online divorce review
LegalZoom is known for its many legal resources, including estate and will planning, but they've also paired up with Wevorce to form a DIY divorce powerhouse online.
How does LegalZoom work?
The LegalZoom divorce process works like this:
- Go to https://divorce.legalzoom.com and answer a few questions to make sure that your divorce is indeed uncontested, and therefore qualifies for LegalZoom. These include:
- Names and location of yourself and your spouse
- Date and location of your marriage
- Number of children and whether you are pregnant
- Properties and debts—and whether you plan to split either equally
- Confirm and pay $499 with a credit card or Paypal, creating a LegalZoom account.
- You will then be provided with the actual filing documents you will need to file your divorce, along with filing instructions.
It is on you to do the actual filing in your state, which can cost an additional $200 to $400.
LegalZoom also has an additional, prepaid legal service if you still want to call an attorney:
- $71.94 / 6 months ($11.99/month)
- $119.98 / 12 months ($9.99/month)
CompleteCase's divorce papers service is nearly identical, also highly rated, and costs just $299. Check out CompleteCase now >>
The Better Business Bureau gives LegalZoom an A+ rating, and it’s been accredited with the BBB since 2001.
- Easy-to-use, quality service
- You don't need your spouse involved in the process. As long as you are both in agreement on key issues, they just have to sign on the dotted line.
- LegalZoom has a great reputation.
- There are many other quality online divorce paper companies that do the same thing, for far lower fees.
- LegalZoom won't actually file the documents for you.
- You'll need to pay additional court fees, as set by your state and local court systems.
The final word on LegalZoom
LegalZoom is a quality online legal papers company useful for creating a will and estate plan, and incorporating your business, but for an online divorce, go with CompleteCase, and save yourself $200 for the same services.
3 Step Divorce: Online divorce review
3 Step Divorce bills itself as the original online divorce company and their aim is to make divorce as simple, quick and inexpensive as possible for both parties.
How does 3 Step Divorce work?
The 3 Step Divorce process is as easy as it sounds. Answer a few questions online about your assets, property, debt, children under 18, and other basics. Those are then auto-filled into documents specific to your state of residence. Once you're done, create your account, and then choose if you prefer to print your complete divorce documents or have them securely mailed to you.
3 Step Divorce says many of its customers actually complete the online portion of the divorce process in under an hour. Of course, you'll need to head to the courthouse to file the documents yourself, but the 3 Step Divorce method is much faster than the alternative. Filing for divorce online with 3 Step Divorce costs between $300 and $500, depending on your state. If you can't pony up the funds all at once, they'll even let you make payments without making you wait to complete the process until you're paid in full. That's a real relief if your goal is to exit the marriage ASAP.
Is 3 Step Divorce legit?
While 3 Step Divorce does not have a BBB accreditation, its online profile boasts an A+ rating. They've also been mentioned in Forbes, CNN, USA Today, and NPR. They've helped file more than 750,000 divorces online, and they've been around since the late '90s. 3 Step Divorce takes their security and client protection very seriously, which is why they use Verisign data and payment encryption software. Their site is locked down with McAfee Virus Protection and Norton Antivirus as well.
- The 3 Step Divorce program is self-paced, so couples can take as long as they need.
- You can pay for the service in installments without halting your progress.
- They offer 24/7 phone support.
- The site is a bit outdated, so the user experience is a little frustrating.
- You'll still have to file the paperwork yourself.
Final word on 3 Step Divorce
OnlineDivorce: Online divorce review
OnlineDivorce aims to be a quick, easy and inexpensive solution for couples who want to separate amicably without help from a lawyer. In addition to shooting for a lower price point, OnlineDivorce really prides itself on convenience — it’s simple, and there aren’t too many bells and whistles. This is a service that has been around for 17 years, which gives it some seniority. The folks at OnlineDivorce claim to have helped more than 500,000 people get divorced.
How does OnlineDivorce work?
OnlineDivorce sets you up with a guided Q&A process that you can complete at your own pace. The first steps to signing up are figuring out if you know where your spouse is located and whether or not you two can agreeably divide your property, debts and issues related to your kids. You can wrap things up as you have time, and you can access customer support by phone whenever you need some help. Like many of the options out there, OnlineDivorce will give you personalized instructions to to file your divorce paperwork the right way in your state.
Also, there’s a 100% money-back guarantee if your paperwork is not done right or isn’t accepted by your local court. OnlineDivorce services start at $139. There’s just one flat fee to get access to documents that will work for both you and your spouse. Many DIY divorce services online can run you around $300, so this is certainly a budget-friendly alternative. OnlineDivorce has been featured in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, Good Morning America and the Today show, but the most recent feature was back in 2003. OnlineDivorce is not accredited by the BBB, and they carry an F rating.
- The OnlineDivorce process is competitively priced, so it's a budget-conscious option.
- The process is self-paced — but they all are.
- OnlineDivorce has negative reviews on almost every site – including an F rating from the BBB.
- The site is not user-friendly or up-to-date.
- The company is living in another century, boasting of their top-notch technology, which includes “immediate email.”
Final word on OnlineDivorce
Skip this poorly rated site that was created in another century, and seems to live off search traffic only.
Other stories about a positive divorce:
GetDivorcePapers: Online divorce review
GetDivorcePapers.com is another site that offers low-cost DIY divorce services online.
How does GetDivorcePapers work?
The process works similarly to many other online divorce sites: choose your state, sign up, answer questions related to your divorce, print, file, done. GetDivorcePapers documents for your divorce cost $139, a steal when compared to some other comparable services.
If GetDivorcePapers sounds kind of similar to OnlineDivorce, so will its status with the Better Business Bureau. According to the BBB, GetDivorcePapers.com is run by SS Solutions LLC, which is not BBB accredited and has an F rating. Complaints to the BBB include claims of poor customer service, paperwork not being accepted by local courts and trouble getting refunds. Not a good look, and I'd recommend steering clear.
- The price is budget-friendly: $139 (plus local filing fees) gets you a divorce.
- The reviews and ratings for GetDivorcePapers are horrible.
- The site seems shady, and if that's any indication of the process, it feels scammy.
Final word onGetDivorcePapers
Divorce Writer: Online divorce review
Another solid online divorce paper option is DivorceWriter. This is a service that cuts out the lawyer — not necessarily a bad thing if you want to want to save money and aren’t at odds with each other — to condense a non-contested divorce into a few easy questions, forms and a trip to the courthouse to make things official.
What’s included with DivorceWriter?
You’ll do an online interview when you get started, just to make sure you’re in the right place and that you have all the info you need to complete your documents. That shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes or so if you’re prepared. Like most services, DivorceWriter lets you complete all of your required forms online and they make sure you have the documents you need for your state. On top of that, they’ll give you detailed filing instructions, since, at the end of the day, you’ll still have to take your own paperwork to your local courthouse.
DivorceWriter will also help you put together a settlement agreement, help you get your name change squared away if that’s something you want and even calculate child support payments. There are also forms to help you plan out custody.
Obviously, they offer email and phone support if you need customer service. You can either just download your documents and print them out yourself or you can have DivorceWriter print them for you and mail them — in that case, you’d get what you need in three to four business days. Getting divorced with help from DivorceWriter costs just $137, plus local filing fees. Per norm, DivorceWriter offers a 100% money-back guarantee if your local court does not accept the documents you prepare through the site.
Also, DivorceWriter says it’s committed to having the lowest price out there. Kind of like a divorce supermarket, they’ll refund the difference if you see a lower price (which would probably only be about $2, but still).
DivorceWriter.com is actually part of Pro Se Planning Inc., which started back in 2000, and DivorceWriter itself has been around since 2005. In general, the entire company helps people put together their own documents for legal purposes, and it also runs TotalLegal.com and LegacyWriter.com, the latter of which helps people with DIY estate planning.
DivorceWriter’s parent company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and it’s been accredited since 2003. The site is also audited and tested for security daily by McAfee to make sure clients’ info is safe and sound.
- At $137, the cost is very accessible for most couples looking to divorce.
- DivorceWriter will refund the difference if you find a lower-priced divorce service online.
- They make sure everything about the process is simple, from finding your state-specific forms and helping you complete them, to giving you detailed instructions to file them.
- DivorceWriter does not file your divorce paperwork for you.
- They do not offer legal help, just some general divorce resources.
Final word on DivorceWriter
For the price, DivorceWriter is one of the best deals out there for finding and completing the divorce documents you'll need before filing them in court.
Wevorce: Online divorce review
While most online divorce services focus on the divorce papers, and helping you file them, Wevorce is closer to a mediation service or collaborative divorce, giving you access to three hours of live consultation with trained divorce mediators each month, as well as more involved online technology to help you and your spouse work towards a resolution.
Plus, Wevorce completes the divorce papers for you.
Wevorce claims success in keeping 99% of its clients out of court.
Sound good? It is, but is many times more expensive than any other online divorce program.
How does Wevorce work?
Go to Wevorce.com and schedule an onboarding session with a consultant to create a roadmap for your optimal divorce outcome. You and your spouse then have access to the Wevorce portal which guides you through all the items required to finalize your divorce, including custody and settlement agreements.
The fee includes access to 3 hours of mediation per month via phone, chat or email.
Wevorce completes your divorce papers for you, then sends you detailed instructions for how to file in your local courthouse.
How much does Wevorce cost?
Wevorce costs $949 for the first month, and $199 per month after that.
Wevorce is a good hybrid of online service, plus live mediator support. While more expensive than other online divorce services, it is a good value. Wevorce fills out the divorce papers for you.
More expensive than its competitors. You have to work together with your soon-to-be ex to complete the mediation process — which is not for everyone.
The final word on Wevorce
Wevorce is a quality service, with
When you should consider an amicable divorce
Some people need to hire a divorce attorney. See below. But for the majority of separating couples, a low-cost, amicable divorce can save you time, money, stress, and set both the husband and wife up for better co-parenting in the future.
- What is an amicable divorce?
- Why an amicable divorce is best for your children
- How much does an amicable divorce cost?
- What is part of an amicable divorce checklist?
- How to have an amicable divorce
- Best amicable online divorce company
An uncontested, amicable divorce is advised for all parties — though this may not be possible in a minority of cases. These include:
- When one or both parties are physicaly / sexually / or severely emotionally abusive to each other and/or children
- There are large and / or complex financial assets that need to be divided
- Division of a family-owned business is at stake
- You enjoy fighting and love to waste money
Everyone else should first try an uncontested, amicable divorce if at all possible!
What is an amicable divorce?
An amicable divorce means that both spouses agree to the terms and conditions without a court trial, and without lengthy attorney negotiations. Couples divorcing amicably typically either agree to terms of the split by themselves, with the help of a mediator, a therapist, or through the collaborative process.
These agreements include property division, spousal and child support, visitation and custody. Amicable divorce does not mean that the spouses are friends, or even friendly — but they are not at war, either.
Why an amicable divorce is best for your children
You can convince yourself that your children are not affected by the conflict of your divorce, but that is a lie. Your children pick up on all the tension between you and their other parent.
Also, it is very hard to move from a high-conflict divorce into an amicable, healthy co-parenting relationship. By committing to a low-conflict, amicable breakup now, you start your new life as peacefully for the whole family.
Amicable divorce paves the way for equal, happy co-parenting, which has been proven by 60 peer-reviewed studies to be the best arrangement for children in separated families.
In other words: Do not create any more bad memories or things to fight over during the divorce. You did that already when you were married.
How much does an amicable divorce cost?
While an average divorce costs each spouse $15,000 each in attorney fees — or $30,000 total — a DIY divorce can cost as little as $100 or less, depending on the filing fees in your state.
What is part of an amicable divorce checklist?
Whether you are working with a mediator, or directly with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, it is helpful to have a divorce settlement checklist to make sure you have all the paperwork and agreement items covered:
- Marriage certificate
- Wills, trusts and other docs that may need to be amended after the divorce
- Login information for all your shared financial and legal accounts
- Documentation of any outstanding debt, and a plan to share that debt, including student loans, credit card, personal, medical, home and auto notes
- All bank account statements, and an agreed-upon plan for how any funds will be shared
- Retirement and investment account statements, and a plan for sharing these funds
- Documents about any real estate that is part of the marriage, and how related assets, debt or rental income will be divided
- Documents about any business that is part of the marriage, and how related assets, debt or rental income will be divided
- Agreement for who is responsible and who gets any automobiles owned
- 2 years of tax statements, and plans for tax filing in the divorce year
- Custody, time-sharing plan for children
- Plan for expense sharing for children
- Any child support or alimony to be paid
How to have an amicable divorce
- Focus on being fair and honest, and aim for compromise.
- Be kind — to our ex (this is hard for him, too), yourself, and those around you. This is a loss and change for everyone.
- Find a positive tribe. One study found that when divorcing couples receive negative feedback from their friends and family (“Take him for all he's worth!” “I always hated that bitch! Make her pay!”) the divorce conflict was higher than in separating couples who had kinder support networks.
- Recognize that this process establishes the tone of your new relationship going forward. If you share children, your husband or wife will be in your life for a long time.
Best amicable online divorce company
CompleteCase gives you all the divorce forms, and settlement agreements that you need for your state, to file your divorce by yourself, for a $299 flat fee — including detailed filing instructions for your state. Check out CompleteCase now >>
When you should consider an annulment
Divorce and a civil annulment (not religious annulment) are similar in that they both legally end a marriage. However, an annulment voids a marriage, essentially removing it from existence.
- What are the reasons for an annulment?
- How long before you can get an annulment?
- How do you annul a marriage?
While you can get a divorce based on any reason, or no reason at all, in most states, to attain an annulment, you have to prove that it should be nullified, or canceled. Annulments can be lengthy, expensive and complicated — especially compared with an online divorce.
It is often possible to get a religious or church annulment, as well as a civil divorce.
If you're making more money than your spouse, you may want an annulment because there's usually no alimony in an annulled marriage.
What are the reasons for an annulment?
Grounds for annulment include:
- Unsound mind. You must prove one spouse gave consent to marry under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was otherwise mentally impaired. Drunk in Vegas may count.
- Force or coercion. One spouse was coerced into the marriage by force or threat.
- Fraud. The marriage is based on lies made by one spouse — such as hiding large debts, or being dishonest about your willingness or ability to have children, or a marriage solely to obtain a green card.
- Physical impairment. This typically refers to sexual impotence, though if you knew about your spouse's impotence before marriage, this cannot be used to nullify a marriage.
- Invalid marriage. The following situations deem a marriage invalid from the beginning since they are illegal in the United States:
- Underage marriage
How long before you can get an annulment?
Each state has its own statute of limitation for annulments and can vary by situation, including underage marriage, impotence or fraud.
How do you annul a marriage?
Check with an attorney, as each state has different laws and practices around annulment. In some states, if both spouses agree, you can get an uncontested annulment without a hearing.
In many cases, your can handle your own annulment, online, using an online platform. Rocket Lawyer has online forms and instructions to help you file an uncontested annulment, online, for a low cost. RocketLawyer has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
How do I file for divorce with an attorney?
Online divorce services are not for everyone. Here are some situations where you need to hire an attorney:
- You need a divorce lawyer if there is abuse in the relationship, or against the children.
- There is a severe addiction or severe mental illness that prevents one spouse from being an equal co-parent.
- You need a family attorney for your divorce if there are large sums of money, assets, property or a family business that are complicated and require professionals to divide equitably.
- It is not possible to proceed with an uncontested, amicable divorce or annulment.
If you use a divorce attorney to end your marriage, the average cost is $15,000 nationwide. Typically, each spouse hires their own lawyer, and between the two parties, an agreement is reached, and then filed in court. Sometimes a couple agrees to use one attorney to mediate the agreement, which is a lower-conflict, and more affordable way to divorce.
Collaborative divorce is gaining popularity. In this process, each spouse hires his or her own attorney, and then there is a third, neutral lawyer or other mediator works to resolve any disagreements and come to an amicable solution without going to court, and with the lowest cost and conflict possible. This is in contrast to the traditional “winner takes all” approach to divorce. Most couples use a local divorce or family lawyer to file for divorce, even if you agree on most terms, and file yourself. It can be a good investment to have an experienced attorney look over your forms.
If you decide you'd like to speak with a lawyer, start with the Rocket Lawyer attorney directory >>
Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker,” her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.