The internet can be very empowering. It can draw new people into do-it-yourself projects, like fixing their car. A simple search through YouTube can gather more information than a trip to the mechanic would have in years past. The same can also be true for divorce, but only up to a point.
Divorce clogs courts
Divorce cases are a major challenge for state court systems, according to research from the National Center for State Courts. Traffic tickets made up 54% of all cases in 2015. These cases are typically resolved without lawyers being involved. Criminal cases made up 21% of state court dockets, and in a criminal case, there are often lawyers provided by the taxpayers for both sides. General civil litigation made up 18% of state court dockets, and presumably, most of those cases involve big enough issues that it was worthwhile for the parties to spend money fighting over.
Domestic relations cases made up 6% of all court cases, and 23% of general jurisdiction court cases. They are in many ways a special challenge. For one thing, divorcing couples often have very little to fight over so it does not make sense for them to each hire a lawyer. Moreover, 28% of domestic relations cases are related to cases that were previously closed and then reopened.
For example, a divorce with a child support order for a 10-year-old child might be reopened later once the child is older and their living situation changes. So divorcing and divorced couples wind up spending a lot of time in court and they often struggle to afford lawyers to represent them.
The solution for many states has been to try and make divorce easier when it makes sense. For example, in California a couple can get a summary dissolution if they have no children together, have been married less than five years, have assets of under $43,000 and debts of less than $6,000 (excluding cars and homes). The couple also has to agree on how to split up their property and one spouse cannot seek ongoing support from the other.
Can I file for divorce online?
But, you might ask, can you file for divorce online? Every state and even every court will handle this issue differently. It is still pretty rare for courts to accept electronic filings from nonlawyers. California has about the simplest way to get divorced, and it might be the most tech-savvy state in the nation.
The form can be completely filled out online, but it must still be hand delivered to the court. So you can learn how to file for divorce online, but you cannot actually file for divorce online.
Other divorce resources
Even though you probably cannot file for divorce online, the internet can really help with the process. You can learn how to get a divorce online. Many states have all the forms you will need available to be easily filled out. You can also find online divorce support groups all over the internet so that you do not have to live through the experience alone.