What does "custody" involve when one is getting an online divorce?

When couples confront the decision to divorce, they confront a lot of unknowns and that usually creates fear and confusion.  When minor children are involved, the term "custody" is one of the first to arise.

You can find a legal definition of "custody" here.

As a divorce mediator for the past twenty-five years and the creator of an online divorce site, let me describe and discuss the terms to the best of my ability.

Custody can be viewed in two aspects – physical and legal.

Physical custody relates to where the children are and when, in terms of week-to-week, weekends, holidays and special days.

Legal custody relates to decision-making and has nothing to do with where the children are.  Legal custody relates to the major areas of decision-making like health, education and religion, and of lesser importance, some general welfare issues like how decisions are made regarding extra-curricular activities.

Sole means resting exclusively with one party.  Primary means resting largely with one party.  Joint means approximately equal or one half.  Shared is a vague term that may be acceptable when the others are not.

What I suggest – as a mediator and with the use of the online divorce site, http://www.ourdivorceagreement.com/ – is that you complete all of the sections that relate to physical and legal custody, then take a look at the two aspects and call them what they appear to be. This cuts down on the tendancy to "grab" for the kids using the concept of custody.

You can "mix and match" these two aspects of custody in any way that works for your situation.  For example, if you wish to equally share decision-making but one of you have the children more than 50% of the time, this could be considered joint legal/primary physical custody.  If one will have more of the decision-making authority but you are sharing the children equally, this could be considered primary legal/joint physical custody.  My point is that I urge couples to define the specific situation they want, then call it what it appears to be.

We recommend that each party consult with separate attorneys prior to signing the agreement.  The attorneys can help assess what you have created to find the best term for each aspect of custody.

If you have further questions, please contact us at support@ourdivorceAgreement.com or +1 502 897 3020.

(Nothing in this article should be considered to be "legal advice."  An online divorce site can give you the tools to complete your divorce but, there is no substitute for sound legal advice from a lawyer from your jurisdiction looking at your situation strictly from your point of view when seeking a divorce.)


From a recent client email:

This is a fantastic product. ...I had no idea where to begin (even though we have no kids and neither of us are contesting anything). This is giving us a fast and easy way to just get this over and done with. I'm so glad I found your site!  - KT


Can We Use an Online Divorce Site If We Live in Different States?

When using an online divorce, many people are puzzled as to where to file when they live in different states.

First, let's clear up a commonly misunderstood fact.  You file in your county of the state/province of current residence, not of the marriage.  (If one had to file in the state of the marriage, many divorcing couples would have to return to Las Vegas to get their divorce!)

Each state has a residency requirement and a waiting period - the time period between the date of filing and the date the divorce can become final. Waiting periods vary widely - from 18 months in New Jersey to no waiting period in New Hampshire and Nevada.

For your information and convenience, here is a link that includes the residency requirements and waiting period information for most US states:

If the waiting period is close to the same in both states, we usually suggest that the spouse who is the most motivated to get the divorce be the one who files.  This will ensure that the paperwork is filed promptly and that any follow-up is done in a timely manner.

If there is any question about your ability to file, we suggest you contact the clerk of your county divorce court that you want to file in and they should be able to tell you if you meet the state's requirements.

With some online divorce sites, such as www.OurDivorceAgreement.com, you can both go online at the same time to work on the site.  You can work also on the documents at different times. (Check our faq once you login for details.) Or you can create a draft agreement and present it to the other spouse and once it is agreeable, one spouse can go online, print out everything, sign them and send them to the other to file.

Once you complete your paperwork, you then file them with the clerk of the divorce court in your county.  You will pay filing fees to the court at that time.  Filing fees vary by jurisdiction.  The clerk should be able to tell you what they are for your jurisdiction.  Some courts insist that you appear before a judge in a hearing and some simply allow you to file the completed forms with the clerk.  Again, the clerk in your jurisdiction should be able to tell you the procedure.

If your court requires a hearing, it will be brief and usually only the one who is filing must appear.  The judge will ask a few questions to make sure the wife is not now pregnant and that both of you truly agree to the terms of your divorce Agreement.

If you are not required in your court to appear before the judge, the court will send you confirmation that your divorce has been finalized.

(The information presented in this article is general and informational and is not intended and should not be intrepreted as legal advice.  There is no substitute for sound legal advice specific to your exact situation and locale.)



New Year, New Beginnings:
Cooperative Couples Compete for a Divorce a Week in January.

With the passing of the holiday season, the New Year brings yearnings for new beginnings from couples who have put off divorce due to the long soured economy.
Our online divorce service, OurDivorceAgreement.com - among the first, launched in 2002 – has seen a significant increase in the number of couples delaying divorce until they are poised to remarry. 
To call greater attention to our cost-effective, quick, and cooperative method of divorce, OurDivorcAgreement.com is giving away one online divorce a week for the month of January to cooperative couples who share the most compelling pre-divorce story.
Contestant couples must be in agreement to divorce and agree to the terms of the division of assets, debts and child responsibilities.  They may share their story of why they are the most deserving of a free online divorce (excluding court filing fees)via Facebook, Twitter, a video on Youtube, the divorce site’s blog, or email.
Of course, a Youtube video is likely to be a more compelling entry than a Twitter post, but we’re open to the most convincing story, no matter the medium.
OurDivorceAgreement.com provides instant online divorce documents that are state/province-specific and serves all of the US, Canada (except Quebec), Australia, UK, India, as well as the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and St. Lucia. Relatively cooperative couples complete online forms to immediately generate their divorce documents.  The use of an online divorce site saves thousands of dollars in legal fees, as well as time and stress.
The price for the complete divorce package from OurDivorceAgreement.com is $149 in the US, and comparable when translated into the local currency of countries outside the US. There are no additional fees for couples with children, military families or other factors.
Winning couples will be chosen on the Saturday of each week in January and notified by email. Winners will need to agree to have their story (with the names changed to preserve anonymity) shared on our blog and other media.
Facebook: Entries can be made on the Ourdivorceagreement.com page.
Twitter entries: @OurDivorceAgt
Youtube entry: Create video and send link to support@ourdivorceagreement.com.
Blog entry: Reply to this post.
Email entry: support@ourdivorceagreement.com; put “Free divorce” in subject line.
Further questions about the contest can be posted here as a comment below.  Good luck!