How Do I File For Divorce?
In most states, you begin your divorce by completing a divorce “petition” or “complaint.” On this fill-in-the-blank form, you provide basic information — your name, your spouse’s name, the date you were married, the date you separated — and indicate how you want the court to decide child custody, child support, property division and alimony.
You must also identify legal grounds for your divorce. All states offer no-fault grounds, so you may only have to assert that your marital relationship is beyond repair. Depending upon where you live, you may need to declare that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” or that your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” or has suffered an “irreparable breakdown.” You may also assert that you’ve lived apart for the required amount of time. In some states you can choose fault grounds, such as adultery, addiction, cruelty, or abuse, which might affect your property division or alimony.
Some states provide a simplified divorce process for couples with no minor children and limited assets who file jointly.
You should make two copies of your petition and file it in the court of the county where you or your spouse lives. Filing fees typically amount to a few hundred dollars. Low-income filers may qualify for a fee waiver.
Once you’ve filed, a third party must serve your spouse with the petition and a summons. If you can’t locate your spouse, the court may allow you to publish a notice of the divorce in a newspaper.
If you’re considering divorce, contact a local family law attorney at Sessums Law Group, P.A. can explain your options, including the pros and cons of no-fault versus fault-based divorce.