Many individuals hire attorneys to handle all aspects of divorce proceedings. Although attorneys may offer peace of mind at this difficult time, their services cost money. If you decide you want a divorce but don’t want to hire an attorney, filing your own paperwork can get the ball rolling. Although laws vary from state to state, the divorce process requires certain forms, documents and legal proceedings. Understanding the divorce process can help you organize your paperwork and file the correct documents for your divorce.
Call the district court or family court office that serves your county. Ask about your state’s residency laws to determine whether you can file in that state. Many states require a certain amount of time to establish residency. Ask the court clerk what documents you need to file for divorce. Your court may supply a packet of documents for a price. Included in this packet, you may find instructions detailing the divorce process and your legal responsibilities in seeking a divorce decree.
Mark the relevant items on the list of instructions. Use a highlighter to emphasize the documents you must complete, according to your situation. For instance, you may need to fill out parenting agreements and child support worksheets if you have children. Separate the documents that don’t pertain to your situation, and sort the remaining ones according to the order you need to complete and submit them.
Fill out the complaint or petition. This initial document allows the court to open your case and assign a court number. Complete this form, filling out all the required information and providing any supporting documents required. Sign your divorce document in front of a notary public, and make the appropriate number of copies, as directed in your packet of instructions. Provide your spouse with a copy of your completed, notarized and signed petition. Your state may require proof of service, such as a certified mail-return receipt.
Write down the date of filing on your calendar. Make note of the deadlines for following the subsequent paperwork with the court. You may find that the court allows a limited period of time for you and your spouse to respond to one another’s requests for information. Avoid missing important deadlines by writing down these dates.
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