What Happens After You Sign & Notarize Your Divorce Documents?

By Timothy Mucciante

Each state has unique laws regarding divorce and family law matters, so the actual process of preparing and filing divorce documents is determined by state civil procedure laws and local court rules. The term "divorce documents" may include the petition or complaint for divorce, motions for support and custody, stipulated property divisions, and final settlements and decrees. In general, divorce documents are commonly referred to as “pleadings” or “court filings."

Each state has unique laws regarding divorce and family law matters, so the actual process of preparing and filing divorce documents is determined by state civil procedure laws and local court rules. The term "divorce documents" may include the petition or complaint for divorce, motions for support and custody, stipulated property divisions, and final settlements and decrees. In general, divorce documents are commonly referred to as “pleadings” or “court filings."

Legal Terminology

In a divorce action, the party starting the divorce may be called the “plaintiff” or “petitioner.” The party against whom the divorce is filed may be called the “defendant” or “respondent.” Also, the "clerk of the court” typically is the filing clerk in the courthouse, while the “court clerk” many times refers to the clerk working in the judge’s courtroom.

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Filing Divorce Documents

Once any divorce document is signed and notarized, it is typically filed with the clerk of the court for that jurisdiction. In some states, divorce actions are handled by courts of general jurisdiction, while other states have dedicated family courts to handle these matters. Each court may have a different filing procedure. Also, not every state requires divorce documents to be notarized, but all states require all court papers to be signed.

Court Action After Filing

After divorce pleadings are filed, the clerk of the court usually sends a copy of the documents to the judge on the case. In some jurisdictions, the filing party is expected to drop off the judge’s copy in his chambers. After the judge receives the divorce pleadings, he may schedule a pretrial conference to determine how the issues raised in the pleadings should be resolved.

Court Action on Motions & Divorce Petitions

If the divorce document is a motion or petition to the court requesting it take some action related to the divorce, the judge’s clerk may schedule the matter for a motion hearing. However, if the court papers are the initiation of the divorce, many judges will summon the parties to chambers for a scheduling conference, where discovery cut-off, motion cut-off and other preliminary matters are discussed.

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References

Related articles

Step-by-Step Divorce Process in Oregon

Oregon offers a summary divorce, but the summary process is limited to couples with certain qualifications, so most Oregon couples use the standard divorce process. Oregon divorce begins when one spouse files for divorce in the appropriate court and proceeds through an information gathering phase to a final trial or hearing. Then, the court grants a divorce decree, concluding the process.

What If He Refuses to Sign the Divorce in Oklahoma?

The simple answer to the question is: Yes, you can get a divorce even if your spouse refuses to sign any documents. This is because it is not necessary for a spouse to sign divorce papers in Oklahoma. All the necessary steps for a divorce can occur without the non-filing spouse’s signature. A divorce can be an emotional and adversarial process, oftentimes to the detriment of all parties involved. Many divorces would reach a stalemate were both spouses’ signatures necessary to complete the divorce.

In California, Can I Amend My Divorce Before the Marital Status Is Terminated?

A change in circumstances in the middle of the divorce process can have a significant impact on the case. Newly discovered property, a change of income and assets, and a change in the relationship with minor children are perhaps the more common developments. Recognizing the need to accommodate for a change in circumstances, California allows divorcing parties to amend their paperwork before the marriage is terminated. Doing so is usually a straightforward process, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind before filing the amended paperwork.

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