When it comes to filing a divorce you have two options. The first option is to physically file your divorce petition with the District Clerk’s office by walking into the courthouse and filing your documents with the clerk. This option takes more time and effort but it’s the way most people prefer to do it until they learn how to do it online.
The second option is to file your divorce online through one of the many state approved e-file service providers. Below is a screenshot of some of the many authorized service providers that allow you to actually file your divorce electronically online.
I have put a red box around the state of Texas sponsored e-file service provider. I think this service provider is easy to use and in my opinion is priced very resonable. This is the e-flle service provider I use whenever I e-file my documents. I prefer this service provider because it’s simple to use and they have tutorial videos that show you how to use their system if you need help. As I stated previously, the cost is very reasonable which makes them my favorite. This becomes important when you have other documents you may need to e-file. On average, it cost me a couple of dollars whenever I e-file any of my documents.
Advertised Online Divorce Websites
Most people believe whenever they e-file their divorce online they are going to fill out their documents online and the website will submit their documents to the District Clerk on thier behalf. However this is not the case at all. Actually the website presents you with questions and you input your information while the website fuses your data into their forms to be printed out by you. For that reason, is a bit of a misnomer of how this process actually works. Let me explain what I mean by this being a “misnomer”.
What usually happens is that you sign up with the advertised website and pay a fee to fill out some forms and then you print out your forms on your printer. After you print out the completed forms, you must then e-file them yourself through one of the state approved e-file service providers. This is not truly filing a divorce online. It’s actually filling out forms online that you will print out yourself to be e-filed by using one of the state approved e-file serice providers.
Now that you understand the differences between e-filing your divorce online with a service provider compared to filling out forms online, I want to walk you through the steps that show you exactly how to file your divorce online.
This very first thing you must do is determine what county you will be filing your divorce. Then call the county District Clerk’s office and ask them if they have e-filing. The other option is to do a search online and see if the county you want to file the divorce has e-filing. You can also login to the service provider I highlighted above to see if your county is on the list for e-filing. One of these options will tell you whether or not e-filing is available in your county. Most large to medium sized counties have e-filing available and others are coming online all the time. Below is a screenshot of the e-filing service provider I use. This is the screen I see whenever initially login to the dashboard. I start the e-filing process by making the selection “Start a New Case”.
Next you will need to have your divorce petition completely finished and saved as a PDF file because you will be uploading it to the e-filing service provider to be submited to the county you are filing in. But before you can do that, you need to know if you will be filing in a District Court or County Court of Law. Large to medium sized counties will have District Courts that handle their divorce cases. Smaller more rural counties will usually have County Courts of Law that handle their divorce cases. You can find this out very easily by contacting the courthouse and simply asking the following question: “Are divorce cases filed in a District Court or County Court of Law in this county?”
After you’ve completed your divorce petition, you should go to the county website you are filing in and look for two things. The first is the county’s local rules. The local rules govern how legal matters are handled in the courts in that county. Local rules are different in every county. I’ve never seen a county that did not have local rules. To see an example of what local rules look like click here.
The second thing you want to look for is any standing orders that might exist for divorce cases. This is very important because the court will expect you to have gotten a copy of the court’s standing order and filed it along with your divorce petition. If the county has standing orders, and you don’t file that along with your divorce petition, your petition will be rejected by the intake clerk and you will have to fix the error. Click here to see what a standing order might look like in your county.
Below is an example of a notice from an intake clerk sent by email that rejected an e-filing because the divorce petition did not have the standing order attached to the petition at the time it was e-filed.
Now you are ready to upload your petition to the e-filing service provider that you selected to file your divorce electronically. As I stated earlier, I use the state sponsored service provider because of ease of use and the low cost associated with using it. See the list of different e-filing service providers or do a Google search to find others that might work out better for you.
After you logged into the service provider’s portal you will be required to input information about both the “Petitioner”and “Respondent”. Most of this information pertains to common data like name, address, phone, etc. You will also be asked what county you’re filing in, type of case, type of court you are filing in, the document you are filing, whether or not you need service issued on the respondent, etc. The cost to file a divorce in that county will also be available during this process. My advice to you is to take your time and read each section very carefully as you fill in this information because if you make a mistake it will be rejected and you will have to start anew.
The dashboard is menu driven and after you make the selection to start a new case you will be taken to another screen where you select the county and type of case you are filing. The following two screenshots are screenshots you will encounter as the e-filing service provider attempts to gather information about your particular case. There are many other screens you see that will require you to fill in information. I urge you to take your time and read very carefully so that you don’t make an incorrect selection or forget and leave out important information.
After you’ve gone through all the various screens and input the required information and uploaded your petition and standing order, you will be prompted to pay the fees associated with filing your petition. On average you are looking at $300+ for filing your petition, citation, and other fees. If you are having your spouse served then your fees are going to get closer to $400. Below is a screenshot of what your fee page might look like when you go to pay your fees. Keep in mind that you will need a credit card or some other method of payment to file your divorce online through the e-filing service provider. This information is usually gathered in the beginning when you register to use the efiling system.
You can take a breath now and cross your fingers that you did everything correctly and that the intake clerk at the courthouse will approve your documents.
Now that you have filed your petition and paid your filing fees you will have to wait and see if your documents are “accepted” or “returned” by the intake clerk at the county. Most often you will be notified the same day via email a few hours after you’ve filed. This will depend on the time of day you file and how busy the court is when you file.
However, you should get an email sent to you within five to ten minutes if you use the state e-filing service provider I recommended. The email will let you know that your documents have been submitted and received. It also includes important information like envelope number, document type, county, any special notes you wrote to the court and the fees you will be charged once your documents are accepted by the court. For an example of what this email looks like, see screenshot below:
After a couple of hours and as long as 48 hours, you will receive an email from the county clerk letting you know the status of your filing as I stated above. You are waiting on a confirmation email on whether your documents have been accepted by the court. For an example of what this email looks like, see screenshot below:
Macro View Of Filing Divorce Online
You now know the difference between actually filing your divorce online and filling out forms on a website that advertises for filing an online divorce. Secondly, I’ve attempted to show you the steps you need to take in order to file an online divorce. If you follow each of these steps you will be successful and off to a great start. However, this is only the start of the divorce process and there is much more you will need to learn to finish your divorce successfully.
If you want to learn more and need the forms to start and finish your uncontested divorce, I encourage you to visit DIY Texas Divorce to learn everything you need to navigate the do-it-yourself divorce process. No doubt doing your own divorce can bring much satisfaction and accomplishment not to mention save you lots of money you would otherwise pay in legal fees.
DIY Divorce Kit
If you are looking for one place to get all your questions answered, all the necessary forms, and tutorial videos that walk you through each step of the dvorce process, my DIY divorce kit is the perfect solution. All you have to do is select the package that is right for you, then sign up and start working on your divorce today. If you have a special situation or question that is not addressed in the divorce kit, all you have to do is send me an email with your questions.
I wish you the very best and much success in filing your online divorce. I really do think this is the best way to go once you understand the process and have all the tools needed to be successful. It will save you time and money as you go through the process. As you press forward with your divorce, and if you have any questions or need my help, please send me an email or give me a call. I will do my best to help you in anyway I can to make your divorce go as smooth as possible.