Fast Do-It-Yourself Uncontested Divorce Papers

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Fast Do-It-Yourself Uncontested Divorce Papers

By Christine Funk, J.D.

If you want to represent yourself in your divorce, you are expected to know the lingo. As a starting point, there are two kinds of divorces: contested divorces and uncontested divorces. A contested divorce is when the parties contest one or more areas that a couple must resolve in a divorce. These areas can include division of assets and debts, child custody, parenting time, and child support.

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    If the parties are in agreement on how to handle all issues, the divorce is uncontested. If you have an uncontested divorce, depending on your circumstances, your state may simply require you to file the paperwork. In other cases, you may need to make a court appearance or complete a class before a judge will grant the divorce. In every case, check your state's laws and follow these basic steps for a fast do-it-yourself uncontested divorce.

    1. Discover residency requirements.

    Most states require a period of residency before allowing a couple to divorce in the state, which generally vary from three to six months. Some states require you to file for divorce in the county of residence, while others permit filing in any county in the state. For convenience, it is usually best to file in the county of residence. Some states allow nonresidents to file for divorce if they married in the state.

    2. Locate and fill out the requisite forms.

    At a minimum, you need a divorce petition. Most states now have a template of this form online, which you can use as a guide. Some states have the form on their state judicial website, while others have it available on the county clerk's website. Be sure to fill out the divorce petition completely. You should carefully read the commentary on the webpage to determine if you need to file any other forms.

    In many states, "irreconcilable differences" is a sufficient reason for divorce. However, in some states, "irreconcilable differences" requires a waiting period of up to one year, while other grounds for divorce—such as adultery, desertion, or mental illness—don't require a waiting period.

    3. Follow additional requirements.

    If the jurisdiction requires it, you must have the form(s) notarized. Many jurisdictions require filing several copies of the petition. Make the requisite number of copies—one for serving your spouse and an additional copy to keep for your records. Some jurisdictions require the filing of a proposed order along with the divorce petition. Take the time to review the forms to determine which forms are required in your particular case. Requirements may even vary within the same jurisdiction depending on the couple's situation.

    4. File and serve the papers.

    File the papers with the court as instructed and pay the filing fee. Serve a copy of the papers on your spouse. Do not do this yourself. Proper service requires one who is not involved in the lawsuit to serve the papers on the other party. You can hire an agency that specializes in service process or have the sheriff's office serve the papers. Whether or not you and your spouse agree to an uncontested divorce, there is a waiting period, during which a spouse may file a response objecting to any portion of the petition.

    5. Follow next steps required by your jurisdiction.

    If your jurisdiction requires filing a proposed order, file it in accordance with instructions. If your state allows a couple to file a joint petition for divorce, you may file the proposed order simultaneously. Where the state requires a hearing, you must make the court appearance. Once the judge signs the divorce decree, obtain at least one copy for your records.

    If you and your spouse agree on all issues involved regarding your debts, assets, and child-related custodial issues, then you may likely benefit from an uncontested divorce. Even with this type of divorce, however, some paperwork is still involved. Be sure to follow these steps and review the requirements in your jurisdiction. By doing so, you can obtain an uncontested divorce quickly and efficiently.

    This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.