What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:
- First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
- Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then he should sign the papers and send them back to you. If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called a “simplified divorce” BUT it is only available if you do not have children with your spouse. If your spouse does not sign the papers for a simplified divorce, you would have to file a regular petition for dissolution of marriage. If your spouse doesn’t respond to those papers after being properly served, you can get a divorce “by default.”
- Fifth, if there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.