We do so much online these days. The internet has made it more convenient for us to do all kinds of tasks using our computers or smartphones.
What about divorce? Online divorce websites have begun popping up, advertising cheap and fast divorce applications. Should you trust these online options to prepare British Columbia divorce papers?
Many divorcing spouses want to know, “What is the fastest way to get a divorce in BC?” They ask, “How can I get divorced without going to court or hiring a lawyer?”
It’s easy to understand the lure of websites offering affordable online divorce as an alternative to traditional methods of divorce orders. The websites say they can quickly and cheaply prepare divorce papers online after you submit your personal information and answer a series of questions.
We all want to save time and money and reduce stress. But before using an online divorce service, its important to understand the risks and disadvantages. Consider the following:
Divorce laws vary from place to place. Many of the websites offering an affordable online divorce originate from the US. They are not experts in Canadian divorce law. Even the sites that originate from other Canadian provinces are a risky choice, as the procedure and court forms you need to bring an application to get a divorce order in BC are different compared to Alberta, Ontario, etc.
Online divorce services charge a fee but don’t provide you with any assistance to make complicated legal decisions. If your divorce has any snags or complications—or even if you just have a question about an aspect of your divorce—there is no one to turn to for advice.
Online divorce services are only available if you are filing for an uncontested divorce. You cannot use an online divorce assistant until all issues arising from your marriage and its breakdown have been resolved. That includes family law issues such as spousal support, child support, parenting arrangements, and division of family property and debt.
British Columbia divorce papers must be filed in person at the Supreme Court where you and/or your spouse live. So, even if you prepare an online divorce assistant application, you will still need to go to the courthouse to file your divorce application, pay court fees, and then ensure that all documents are properly served on your spouse.
You may end up in court anyway. If there is a mistake in your court forms, if you don’t meet the legal requirements to make you eligible for a BC divorce, or if the judge is not satisfied that you’ve made reasonable arrangements for the care and support of your children, your application will be rejected, and you may have to appear in court.
You will need to provide sensitive personal information to complete your divorce papers. Online privacy is a serious issue due to the increasing number of data breaches and instances of identity theft.
A divorce order is binding. If there was a mistake, or if something important was missed in your divorce application (e.g., financial issues, property, or debt), you may not be able to fix it. Even if you can fix it, it will cost you more time and money.
British Columbia’s Ministry of the Attorney General recently launched an online divorce assistant, which can be found here. It is a free tool that asks spouses to answer questions about their situation, and then the app uses those answers to fill out the divorce forms.
This can be a useful option for divorcing spouses, but only in very limited circumstances: the Ministry of Justice’s Online Divorce Assistant Application is only available for spouses filing for a joint divorce.
A divorce filed jointly means the application for a divorce is brought together with your spouse. Joint divorce requires that you and your spouse agree about getting a divorce and that you agree about all of the family law issues relevant to your situation, such as spousal support, and the division of family property and debts.
Another catch: your marriage certificate (or registration of marriage) must be in English to use the app. If it is not, you will need to get your proof of marriage translated by a certified translator and have the translator provide an Affidavit of Translation.
If you and your spouse are filing for a joint divorce and are thinking about using the Ministry of Justice’s Online Divorce Assistant Application, note that you will still need to print the forms after using the app, take them to the local court registry for filing, and pay the required court filing fees. You will also need to create a Basic BCeID account to use the assistant.
Contacting a divorce lawyer is the best way to ensure that your rights, your children, your assets, and your future are protected. Your lawyer will alert you to any potential pitfalls, provide you with valuable insight, and give you customized legal advice.
Onyx Law Group is here to help. Our experienced Vancouver divorce lawyers can help you navigate the legal system and achieve a fair result for you and your family. Reach out to Onyx Law Group today at (604) 305-2923 to get trusted advice and a clear plan for securing your divorce order.
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be considered legal, financial, tax, medical, or any other professional advice.