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How to File for Divorce

Filing for divorce is a difficult, emotionally charged decision, however, the process can be less painful when certain steps are taken. If you and you spouse are able to agree on key issues like property division, child support, and spousal maintenance, filing a no fault divorce petition will make getting a divorce decree easier. An uncontested divorce is typically based on the no fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. US Legal Forms offers affordable, state-specific uncontested divorce packages with the forms you need to file for divorce, along with easy to follow, step-by-step instructions.

Before Filing for Divorce

Ideally, you and your spouse can come to agreement on important terms. You should pick an appropriate time and place to discuss matters and draft a property settlement and parenting plan. As long as the judge finds your property settlement and parenting plan to be fairly and knowingly entered into, it will typically be incorporated into the final divorce decree. If you have already prepared a legal separation agreement, that may also be used to incorporate into the divorce order. Key terms that should be covered include the following:

Property division of marital assets and separate property - The division of marital property can vary depending on whether you live in a community property state or not. In a community property state, assets acquired before marriage, by gift, or through inheritance, are deemed separate property. However, separate property may be converted to joint assets through commingling, agreement, or equitable powers of the court. In non-community property states, marital assets are not necessarily divided equally, the court has the power to make a division under equitable distribution principles of fairness. Therefore, your property settlement agreement should state what assets are deemed separate property and how joint assets will be divided. Debts should also be listed and divided, stating who is responsible for paying joint debts and which debts will be paid separately.

Parenting plan - If you have children, child custody should be agreed upon, including visitation schedules and travel arrangements and expenses. Don't forget to include holidays and birthdays.

Child support - Any amounts for child support and terms of payment should be agreed upon if there are children. The agreement should also specify who will be responsible for insurance coverage and extraordinary expenses such as uncovered medical expenses and extracurricular activities.

Temporary alimony and/or permanent spousal maintenance - The amount and duration of any spousal support should be discussed. Temporary alimony paid before the final divorce decree is entered is often referred to as alimony pendente lite.

Any other matters deemed important.

Filing for Divorce

Along with the divorce petition, certain papers must accompany the divorce complaint. A proof of service is attached to show that a copy was served on the other party. To save time and expense, you may have the other spouse sign a waiver of service so that formal service by a process server isn't required for other divorce papers. Many states require a financial affidavit to be filed along with the divorce complaint in order to calculate support payments. In some cases, a written waiver of financial disclosure may be signed by the spouses, so that the need for financial statements is dispensed with.

Filing for Divorce & Responses