Getting a traditional divorce — you know, with lots of lawyers and fighting — can be incredibly time consuming and cost-prohibitive.
Think about it: Not only do you have to pay an attorney, lawyer, mediator, and court fees, you also have to consider the lost time at work, the cost of childcare, extra transportation, parking fees, court-appropriate outfit, and even more!
For example: missing work because you are so stressed out and miserable because let's face it: This time of your life will rank as one of the worst.
Then there's time, and we all know that time equals money. Divorce lawyers know this.
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 attorneys are needed in some cases, in which there is already high conflict, custody disputes, lots of money in question, as well as dangerous situations like abuse or untreated addiction, there are alternatives that make sense for mature adults who are ready to move on with life.
Lucky for us, we live in a modern world full of technological advances for almost everything – including divorce.
Do-it-yourself/DIY divorce companies like CompleteCase exist online to help you save time and money, and get on with your life already!
Whether you're interested in resources for researching the divorce process on your own, or you'd prefer to have a service do everything for you, these online divorce companies can be a fantastic choice:
- First, answers to common questions regarding how much does it cost to get a divorce
- Complete Case: Online divorce review
- Rocket Lawyer: Online divorce review
- My Divorce Papers: Online divorce review
- Nolo: Online divorce review
- LegalZoom-Wevorce: Online divorce review
- 3 Step Divorce: Online divorce review
- OnlineDivorce: Online divorce review
- GetDivorcePapers: Online divorce review
- JustAnswer: Online divorce advice review
- Divorce Writer: Online
First, answers to common questions regarding how much does it cost to get a 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 any children
- Guidelines for co-parenting
- Financial responsibility sharing, including child support, for the kids
- Division of any assets, including the family home, jewelry retirement accounts and other investments
- Division of 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 agree on terms of the divorce, create the legal documents online, and then 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.
CompleteCase: Online divorce review
Complete Case 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.
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.
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 available
- 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.
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. They also have 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-Wevorce: 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-Wevorce work?
The LegalZoom-Wevorce divorce process works like this:
- Have a consultation over the phone with a lawyer who helps you understand the program and takes stock of your emotional, financial and legal needs regarding divorce.
- A custom plan is created for you and your family, including the exact forms, you'll need per your state and local laws.
- You'll work on creating a successful, minimal conflict parenting plan using resources and guides provided by LegalZoom-Wevorce.
- You'll determine how best to divide your assets and debts, considering each spouse's financial futures. You do not need your spouse involved in the program, but they can have access to the shared account if you choose. This is why it's important to know where the two of you stand on big topics.
- The service will work with you to complete the proper documents and paperwork for your state's courts,
- You deliver the signed documents to your courthouse.
This online divorce program takes less than one month to complete, on average. That's still faster than the traditional route.The self-guided divorce process through LegalZoom-Wevorce starts at $949. Access for both spouses is included in the cost, but that doesn't include any of your court filing fees set by your state and county. You can expect those to cost anywhere from $300-$500, depending on your location.The Better Business Bureau gives LegalZoom an A+ rating
, and it’s been accredited with the BBB since 2001. Wevorce, on the other hand, is not accredited with the BBB, but their reviews are good and they have a B+ rating.
- The process and costs are more favorable than a traditional courthouse divorce.
- 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 and Wevorce both have great reputations.
- This might be too simple of a process if your assets are complicated or if you can't come to an agreement about custody or other big issues.
- LegalZoom-Wevorce 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-Wevorce
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.The company 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:What every woman should ask for in a divorce When you are a mom who pays child support or alimony
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
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.
Divorce Writer: Online divorce review
If you and your spouse want to get a no-hassle divorce and you both agree on how you want to divide things, want to get started right away and also want to do it on the cheap, DivorceWriter might be an option for you. 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.
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
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 helpful to have an experienced attorney look over your forms.
Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.