The term "divorce papers" usually refers to the papers “served” by one spouse upon the other. This notifies the person that legal action for divorce is being initiated.  If the other party agrees, they can sign the petition for divorce, which will be submitted to the court.  The divorce hearings can then proceed.

Among other things, the divorce petition (petition for dissolution of marriage) contains information such as the names of the parties, property issues, child custody requests, and other information. 

The term “divorce papers” usually refers to these petition papers.  Another type of legal document associated with divorce is the divorce decree, which is issued at the end of the hearings.

What Happens after Divorce Papers Are Filed?

Once the other party signs the divorce documents, the divorce parties may then be filed with a court of law.  Here, the judge will review the documents, and may initiate proceedings for the divorce.  You should note that there may be various deadlines for the person to respond by signing the papers. For instance, in some states, the proceedings may be allowed to begin without them if they don’t respond to the divorce papers within 30 days.  Many states allow for “no-fault” divorce. 

What Are Some Legal Issues to Look Out for When Filing Divorce Papers?

When filing or serving divorce papers, there are various legal issues to be aware of.  Any mistakes, errors, or delays in filing divorce papers can actually affect the outcome of the following divorce hearings. Some of legal issues to be aware of may include:

  • Filing for divorce in different states: Each state may have different divorce laws, especially when it comes to issues like community or shared property. 
  • Missing spouse: In some cases, it is possible to proceed with a divorce even if the spouse is missing or cannot be located. This usually involves posting an ad in a newspaper or providing notice through some other means.
  • Representation by a Lawyer: Each party generally needs to be represented by their own lawyer. 
  • Child custody issues: When children are involved, it can change the dynamic of the divorce proceeding. Any determinations are always made with the best interests of the children in mind.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Divorce Papers?

Filing or serving divorce papers can often involve many different legal concepts. You may want to hire a qualified divorce lawyer in your area if you need assistance with divorce papers or other divorce matters. Your attorney can help you file the papers, and can also assist you throughout the entire divorce process.