Documents for Divorce & Alimony

By Wayne Thomas

Divorces necessarily involve the exchange of information. The bulk of this exchange is generally handled outside the courtroom through written requests contained in standard court documents. Although state procedures can vary, courts have specific forms that the parties need to complete and submit to start a divorce, continue the divorce process and determine divorce-related matters, such as alimony. If you need assistance with the forms, an online legal document service can fill them out and submit them for you.

Starting the Divorce

In most states, a divorce does not begin until one spouse completes and files a complaint or petition form with the court clerk. The other spouse then responds in writing with another form called an answer. These documents set the foundation for the divorce and tell the court the reason for the divorce, as well as what both parties request in terms of property distribution and child custody. Either spouse may also request that the court award alimony, which is sometimes referred to as spousal support.

Financial Affidavit

States often require both parties to file financial affidavits, either with the original paperwork or soon after. The financial affidavit is a sworn statement itemizing all the property the spouses own, as well as their estimated monthly incomes and expenses. Most forms also require the parties to provide the nature and amount of all outstanding debts incurred during the marriage. This form is a starting point for the court to analyze the financial needs and earning abilities of both spouses; this information plays an important role in determining whether an alimony award is appropriate.

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Written Opinions

Alimony determinations require the court to look at, among other factors, whether a spouse requesting alimony has the current or future ability to be self-supporting. It is not uncommon for a couple to disagree on this issue -- and the court may request that each side obtain an expert opinion. Experts, who are trained in assessing a person's educational background and present employment skills, would then evaluate the spouse requesting alimony and provide each party with written findings. These reports may then be submitted to the court and considered by the judge in determining the alimony award.

Additional Documents

Depending on the nature of the case, additional documents may be required. If children are involved, most states require that the parties submit custody schedules and child support worksheets. The spouses also need to provide the court with any written agreements reached between them. Further, if the parties disagree on any divorce issues and the case proceeds to trial, the parties must first exchange all documents and other evidence they intend to present in court. This process is known as discovery -- and the documents might include property appraisals, phone records used to prove an affair, as well as witness lists.

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Divorce Papers for Washington State

References

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How to File a Form FL-100 for a California Uncontested Divorce

Form FL-100, Petition — Marriage, is used to start an uncontested divorce in the California courts. A divorce is uncontested if both parties want to divorce and agree on all the terms, such as property division and child custody. At least one of the spouses must have been a legal resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing Form FL-100, and you must also present Form FL-110, the Summons, at the time of filing Form FL-100.

Documents Needed for the Respondents in a Divorce Summons

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How Can I Get Alimony Modified in Florida?

Alimony is monetary support one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. In Florida, temporary, or rehabilitative, alimony is paid to provide a spouse with the opportunity to rehabilitate career or work skills. Permanent alimony is paid indefinitely, usually in long marriages where the receiving spouse did not develop work skills during the marriage. Florida courts modify alimony when there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

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