There are a number of stages to completing the formalities of a divorce.
- Obtain and file the petition. Go to the family law website for your state government where you can obtain a “Petition for Divorce or Dissolution of Marriage.” You can also get this by visiting your local Clerk of Court’s office if you prefer. If you call this office, they can tell you if you need to attach any additional information with your petition such as a financial affidavit. Then complete and file your petition.
- Serve your spouse with the petition and a summons. Most states allow this to be done through certified mail. If the state you live in does not allow this, you will need to ask someone else to do it on your behalf, such as an officer of the law, private service company, or an adult who is not affected by your divorce.
- Your spouse accepts or rejects your petition. To accept, your spouse will need to file a voluntary acceptance form. If the spouse rejects the petition, then the divorce will be considered “contested,” and he or she will need to file a response to your petition.
- Submit a divorce settlement agreement and a proposed judgment. Often, you will enter a waiting period before your case goes to court. This is your chance to finish completing your divorce settlement agreement. This spells out your particular wishes for the divorce, including the division of your assets and debts, child custody, child support, and alimony. Note that you may complete this agreement before or after the couple is separated or divorced.
- Attend the hearing. The judge will review your case and render a judgment if everything meets the requirements.