Before a divorce proceeding can be formally initiated, the parties need to file and respond to divorce papers. Broadly speaking, divorce papers are those forms and documents that one party uses to inform the other that they wish to have a divorce. These papers must be delivered or “served” to the recipient party.

Once the other party receives the divorce papers, they need to sign them in order for the divorce proceeding to begin. Divorce papers can usually be obtained through the court system, or through the assistance of a lawyer.

What Is Contained in the Divorce Papers?

The divorce papers should contain:

  • The purpose of the papers (i.e., formally requesting a divorce)
  • Identification of the parties involved
  • Various issues such as request for child custody, child support, or spousal support

Divorce papers are often called “petition for dissolution of marriage”. Other forms of dissolving a marriage, such as a legal separation or an annulment, may also involve similar types of papers.

Issues to Consider When Filing Divorce Papers

One of the main issues to consider when filing divorce papers is whether or not both parties are located in the same state. If the parties reside in the same state, and if the divorce is occurring in the same state that the marriage occurred, then the divorce hearing should be relatively straightforward.

Divorce papers can get complicated if the following issues are present:

  • Either party is no longer located in the state of marriage (i.e., filing in different states)
  • The marriage occurred under special laws, such as gay marriage laws or other types of statutes (these are not the same in every state)
  • One party is contesting the filing
  • The couple has shared property or businesses that are located in different states

These types of issues can extend the process. However, they should not present a major obstacle and can be addressed with the assistance of a lawyer.

Should I Hire a Lawyer When Filing Divorce Papers?

Filing for divorce generally requires the assistance of a divorce lawyer. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need assistance with divorce proceedings. Your attorney can help you obtain and file the divorce papers in a timely manner. Also, if you come across any legal disputes, your attorney can help represent your interests during the process.