Virtual legal proceedings pave the way for filing uncontested divorces in Florida.
- What is an Online Divorce?
- How Does an Online Divorce Work in Florida?
- Is an Online Divorce Right for Me?
Are you putting off your divorce because
you don’t have the time, the money, or both?
You might be surprised at the evolution of divorce in both contexts since March of 2020, especially if you anticipate your divorce to be “uncontested.” That is, you and your spouse are on the same page about wanting a divorce and generally agree on the major components of dividing one household into two.
Courthouse closures over the two years during the pandemic paved the way for online proceedings in divorce cases, and in particular uncontested divorce cases. During the lockdown, it was impossible for divorcing spouses to meet face-to-face with their attorney. And if their divorce was litigated (meaning contested in court), it was impossible for the divorcing spouse and their attorney to appear at live court appearances for hearings and trials.
As a result, although most courthouses are now open to the public again, remote legal services remain a streamlined option for spouses divorcing in Florida, with the added benefits of taking a fraction of the time and expense of a traditional courthouse divorce.
Here are some additional videos and resources on uncontested divorce during/after the pandemic:
In representing clients during the lockdown
on remote video platforms,
I learned of a bonus benefit to them:
The lack of real-time, face-to-face encounters between the divorcing spouses during settlement negotiations, depositions, hearings, and trials served to significantly decrease my clients’ anxiety during their divorce process.
I also observed that virtual appearances increased my clients’ abilities to make better and less emotional life-changing decisions regarding their family and their finances.
While divorce can be a difficult process, online legal divorce services can provide the ideal platform for couples who agree to divorce and agree on the terms of their divorce but need assistance hammering out the details in writing and filing the required documents with the court.
As an increasingly utilized method of divorce, the online process has the advantages of saving time, saving money, and saving stress. So long as both parties can agree not to litigate in court (i.e., agree to an uncontested divorce), online divorce remains a premier option in Florida.
What is an Online Divorce?
Online divorce is a streamlined process in which clients seeking an uncontested divorce can connect with an attorney who prepares all required court documents and files them electronically through the state of Florida e-portal filing system. Online divorce proceedings, unlike traditional divorce proceedings, are completed through video or telephonic conferences.
This process requires no live appearances in a courtroom, no live mediation conferences, and no live negotiation meetings. Online divorce is fast-paced and more cost-effective than the traditional divorce process. Absent unforeseen circumstances, if the spouses are relatively on the same page regarding the terms of their divorce, an online divorce can be resolved and finalized in as little as two months and costs a fraction of more traditional methods of divorce.
How Does an Online Divorce Work?
An online divorce in Florida will start in the same way as a traditional divorce, with a confidential attorney-client meeting where all communications are privileged. In the online process, you will meet with your attorney remotely instead of in person. Your initial meeting, called an intake conference, will be by video or telephonic conference at your choosing. Your attorney will collect from you all the details necessary to prepare the initial court documents.
After your initial intake conference…
Your attorney will draft the mandatory documents for your review before submitting them to the court. When the documents are finalized and approved by you, your attorney will file them electronically with the court through the Florida statewide e-portal filing system. For documents required to be notarized, your online attorney can provide notarization so long as you are a resident of Florida and have proper Florida identification.
At this point, your attorney will begin negotiations with your spouse or your spouse’s legal representative. The negotiation communications will be conducted by a combination of email and video or telephonic conferences. For in-depth information about uncontested virtual negotiation methods, see my companion article, “Virtual Divorce in Florida.”
After the settlement negotiations are concluded…
Your online attorney will prepare a document called a marital settlement agreement, which sets down in writing the terms of your divorce. If you have children, your attorney will also prepare a document called a parenting plan, which governs in writing how you and your spouse will raise your children as single co-parents.
These documents are enforceable contracts and are signed by you and your spouse. Once signed and filed with the court, they effectively end your divorce process.
The last step is…
Your attorney will prepare a document called a proposed final judgment of dissolution of marriage. This document incorporates the terms of your signed contracts with your spouse and is submitted to the judge for his or her review and signature.
While there is no definitive time limit for the judge to do this, judges have great respect for divorcing spouses’ ability to sit down (virtually-speaking) and make the tough decisions regarding the details of their divorce.
This saves the judge from having to do that for you; thus, in return, they will generally sign the final judgment super quick. In my experience in Florida, I typically receive signed final judgments electronically from the judge’s office within five working days.
In the very rare instance your judge requires an in-person final hearing, your online attorney can request a remote hearing if allowed. If not allowed, your online attorney can either appear or associate with local counsel to stand in with you at the final hearing.
Is an Online Divorce Right for Me?
Divorce is more often than not a very challenging process that is time-consuming and draining, both emotionally and financially. There are many reasons why getting an online divorce is the best option for spouses in an uncontested divorce, which will lessen the stress of a courthouse divorce.
Online divorce allows clients to go through the process at their own pace from the comfort of their own homes or other remote space of their choosing. Now more than ever, remote methods of meeting are commonplace, and your divorce doesn’t have to be any different.
It is not compulsory or even beneficial that spouses attend in-person meetings face-to-face or with their attorneys, nor do they have to appear live in court if the divorce is uncontested. In an online divorce, spouses can quickly review and sign the necessary documents and have them notarized virtually online, saving everyone involved time and money.
Online divorce cases are a fraction of the cost of traditional contested divorce cases because they take less time for everyone involved. For instance, your attorney will have more calendar flexibility to provide you with remote meeting times, which means your case will flow more quickly than it would in person.
You will save time and money not driving and parking rather than traveling miles to in-person meetings with your attorney, live negotiation conferences, and live court appearances.
Online divorce is also ideal if you travel frequently; are short on time due to work and/or childcare; or if you or your spouse have already separated and live in different cities, states, or countries. Your attorney can offer you reduced fees due to the streamlined nature of the online process and the fact your case is uncontested.
Your online divorce attorney will provide you with the legal advice and court document filings required to finalize your case, thus saving you the headache and stress of preparing and filing them on your own, without knowing the rules or the ropes.
If court documents are not prepared and filed correctly, they will be rejected by the judge and you will have to re-draft and re-file them, thus causing delays in your case.
As famously said by Abraham Lincoln,
“a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”
In other words, if you have important, permanent, life-changing decisions to make regarding your marital assets, liabilities, and/or issues related to raising your children, it is highly advisable and far more time and cost-effective in the long run if you hire a seasoned professional to assist you from the beginning.
● Fast Result
Online divorce attorneys can get you results sooner than a courthouse divorce, often in as little as two months. A seasoned divorce attorney is skilled in drafting and filing legal documents and can do so quickly without repeat attempts.
A traditional divorce, especially if it is contested, takes many months and often years to reach a full and final resolution. If the speed of your divorce process is important to you, an online divorce can occur in record time, leaving you free to pursue your independent life.
Your online divorce attorney will make the procedure as simple and streamlined as possible for you. He or she will be there every step of the way to address any questions or concerns you may have.
All required court documents are prepared and provided to you by your online attorney, then they will be finalized and electronically filed for you, stress and hassle-free.
Separating from a spouse is usually an emotionally difficult process for one or both spouses. Online divorce is far less stressful than traditional divorce because no contact between the spouses is required — the online attorney does the footwork for you, so you can spend your time in the life activities that are most important to you.
If you believe you qualify for an online divorce or have questions about the types of divorce available to you, please reach out to our team here at Morgan Divorce Law Firm, and let’s set up a time to talk.