You can file for divorce by filing the correct paperwork in any state where you meet the legal requirements that permit you to file for divorce in that state. These legal requirements include residency and eligibility laws. For instance, Michigan requires residents to live in the state at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce.

What Information Do I Need to Complete My Divorce Petition?

First, you need to decide wither to file for a fault or a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce allows for a divorce without requiring one spouse to do something wrong to cause the divorce. Instead, the grounds for a no-fault divorce include:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Incompatibility
  • Irremediable breakdown of the marriage

A fault divorce is granted due to one spouse causing the divorce through their own actions, such as:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Going to prison
  • Desertion
  • Inability or refusal to consummate the marriage

Several states do not recognize one spouse’s fault as grounds of divorce and only grant no-fault divorces.

How Do I Start Divorce Proceedings?

The first formal, and most serious, step in filing for divorce is submitting the divorce petition to the court. The divorce petition, which includes the grounds for divorce, is filed in the jurisdiction where a spouse lives. In the divorce petition, the spouse requests that the court end their marriage and determine issues such as:

  • Dividing property
  • Restoring the wife’s maiden name
  • Child custody, support, and visitation
  • Alimony

How Will My Spouse Know I Filed for Divorce?

The court requires a service of summons be sent to the respondent, or spouse being sued for divorce. Some states require the petitioner, or spouse who wants the divorce, to deliver the petition. Other states require the petition is sent via the local sheriff, a process server, or certified mail.

What Happens After My Spouse Receives the Divorce Petition?

A respondent typically has 20 days to file an answer with the court. The respondent can dispute the divorce, which means the divorce is contested. Also, the responding spouse could file a cross-petition on new issues not raised in the original petition.  If the respondent spouse does not answer the divorce petition, the court will assume that there is no dispute.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me File for Divorce?

Each state is different with regard to their requirements for how to file divorce. You will want to check with a divorce lawyer in your state regarding specific laws.