Filing for Divorce Online in 2021 | Mission Is Possible
Divorce provides a solution for couples in an irretrievably broken marriage. States recognize that no one should remain in a broken marriage. California has been a leader in making divorce easier and more accessible.
One way that California has facilitated divorce is through its online filing system. Couples and their lawyers can prepare and file divorce petitions online. And as of November 15, 2021, all lawyers must file papers in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County using the e-filing system.
Here is some information about filing for divorce online in 2021 in L.A. County.
Where to File for Divorce
Before filing a divorce online, you need to make sure you file in the correct court. Under California law, you can only file a divorce if you have lived in the state for at least six months.
If you meet the residency requirement, you must file in the county where you lived for at least three months.
If you recently moved to a different county, you must either:
- Wait for three months to elapse or
- File in your spouse’s county of residence
You must determine the correct court; a judge can only grant your divorce if you meet the residency and venue requirements.
More importantly, each county uses a separate electronic filing system. If you file in the wrong court, you will need to refile in the correct court.
Options for Filing Online
If you meet the requirements to file in L.A. County, you have two options for filing for divorce online.
The e-filing system was created for lawyers to file documents online. The court set a deadline of November 15, 2021, for lawyers to file all family law documents online in L.A. County.
Self-represented parties (parties without lawyers) have the option of filing online or in person. The two filing methods provide the same options. You must file the same papers and pay the same fee in either case.
To use the e-filing system, you must know:
- Which documents to file
- How to prepare the documents
In other words, the e-filing system does not provide any guidance to assist you. Instead, it merely provides a portal for individuals to upload documents electronically into the court’s document management system.
The advantage of this system is that you have complete control over the documents you file. If you know how to prepare the documents, this system allows you to file them exactly as you intend.
The disadvantage of this system is that you have no legal guidance. As a result, you might omit an important document or prepare your documents incorrectly. This could delay your divorce or even trigger a dismissal.
File from Home
L.A. County also has a program called “File from Home.” This system uses the Odyssey Guide and File system. Instead of preparing and filing your documents, the File from Home system asks a series of questions. The system selects and prepares your documents based on your answers.
The advantage of this system is that anyone can use it to prepare divorce papers. Even if you have no training or experience with child custody or child support, the system will prepare the correct papers for your divorce.
The disadvantage of this system is that it might not prepare the papers exactly as you wanted. If your case involves unique circumstances or you want to request unusual relief, you might not get what you want from the File from Home system.
Filing for Divorce Online in 2021
You can file for divorce online in California, although the system might vary from county to county. Bear in mind that the online filing only starts the proceeding. You will likely need to appear in court, even if your spouse does not contest the divorce.
But you can get started by filing online. And this will set you off on your mission to move forward with your life.