Ernesto Gomez and his wife Blanca had been planning to get a divorce for three years. They had already separated and worked out custody and child support for their two kids. But they had stalled on filing because they didn’t want to deal with the hassle and expense. Hiring a lawyer, they were told, would cost at least $1,500. Using a free service offered by the court would involve numerous meetings spread out over several weeks. So when Gomez heard an ad on the radio for an online divorce service that would let him fill out the paperwork online for just $299, he decided to give it a try. Four days after he logged onto the site, he had the papers completed and filed in court. “OnlineDivorce gives you step-by-step instructions. You can’t miss anything,” says Gomez, a distribution-center manager in Miami. Brian Lee, president of says his site has handled more than 30,000 divorces since its launch in 2001. Though people still have to convey their forms to the court, the process of filling out the paperwork can take less than an hour, thanks to simple online questionnaires that hand-hold customers through the process. Online divorce is not an option if the couple can’t agree on the terms. Even when they can, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. “Instant divorce is the last thing we need,” says Mike McManus, president of the marriage advocacy group Marriage Savers. Instead of a divorce, McManus says, couples often just need time to cool off before working out their differences. Still, such services are spreading. Utah and California offer do-it-yourself sites that let you fill the forms out online (for $20 at to; free at Traffic on the California site rose from 6,800 page views in May 2002 to nearly 17,000 in May 2003. –By Anita Hamilton