Filing the Divorce Papers

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Divorce proceedings commence when one spouse files papers in state court. Each state imposes its own set of regulations regarding which forms to file and how. You can find these forms online via county websites, family law facilitators or self-help centers nearby. Filing may take months or years depending on whether the divorce is contentious.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document includes important details about both parties involved, such as children or details about their marriage and grounds for divorce as well as whether joint or separate property should be divided or kept together. Care must be taken when filling out this or any other divorce forms as some states require filing additional financial information alongside it – such as income and expenses.

Once a petition has been completed and filed, a Summons will also be served upon the other spouse (known as the Defendant) notifying them they have been sued for divorce. They typically have 21 days from receiving this Summons to respond; otherwise the case will proceed further into its next stage.

Once completed, take them to the Supreme Court clerk’s office in your county where either spouse lives. There, they will provide an index number and stamp your forms with their seal – one copy for you and another copy to give to the Defendant.

If you cannot serve your spouse personally, a sheriff’s department or private process server can be hired for a fee to do it on your behalf. There is also the option of service by publication which sends documents directly into local newspapers containing them for your spouse to find. Some people have managed to avoid being served and now reside elsewhere without even knowing where their former partners live.

If your spouse receives divorce papers and disagrees with any aspect of them such as grounds for the split, how assets should be divided or your request for child custody arrangements, they may file an objection which will create what’s known as a contested divorce case. Responses must address why they disagree with aspects of the complaint and why something different should occur. Make several copies for yourself, your spouse and for court purposes before filing with them. Court officials cannot return copies of forms to you without an official, notarized document from you, your attorney, or spouse who are collecting them. If any modifications need to be made to your forms, an administrative fee may apply in order to reissue them.