Divorce Papers & Forms: A 2024 Guide


Divorce is complex and often contentious, making it common to hire an attorney. However, legal fees can be costly, ranging from $150 to $500 per hour. If you want to save money, you can complete and file divorce forms yourself.

Understanding Divorce Forms

State-Specific Forms

Divorce laws and forms vary by state. Some states follow community property laws, requiring equal asset division, while others follow equitable distribution. Obtain the correct forms from your state’s family court portal or an online library.

How to Obtain Divorce Papers

States like California use standardized forms, such as:

  • Petition for Dissolution: Initiates the divorce and outlines requested court orders.
  • Summons: Notifies the spouse of the divorce and provides a response deadline.
  • Declaration of Disclosure: Lists marital assets, debts, income, and expenses.

Additional forms may be needed for cases involving minor children or specific county requirements.

Filling Out and Filing Forms

Typically, you need to file three forms with the family court:

  1. Family Court Cover Sheet: Lists basic information about you, your spouse, and any children.
  2. Complaint for Divorce: Details requests for child custody, support, and asset division.
  3. Summons: Notifies your spouse of the divorce filing and provides a response deadline.

Serving Your Spouse

Legally notify your spouse by having the papers delivered by a process server, certified mail, or a deputy from the sheriff’s office. Proper service is crucial for the divorce process.

Responding to Divorce Papers

The respondent has 21 to 30 days to file a Response Form, indicating agreement or disagreement with the initial complaint. Without a response, the case proceeds uncontested.

Joint Divorce Petitions

For amicable divorces, both parties can file a Joint Divorce Petition, outlining agreed-upon terms for asset division, custody, and support.

Sample Agreements

Property Settlement Agreement

This document divides marital assets, debts, and personal property, including homes, vehicles, and retirement accounts.

Separation Agreement

For couples not ready to divorce, this agreement outlines living arrangements, custody, support, and asset division. It often becomes the divorce judgment terms after a trial period.

DIY Divorce Filings

A DIY divorce, or pro se divorce, involves filing without a lawyer. It’s best for uncontested cases with few assets or custody issues. Online divorce services offer document preparation and filing support but ensure you choose one with court acceptance guarantees.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I file for divorce online?
    • Yes, but only for uncontested divorces.
  2. How can I get a quick divorce?
    • File uncontested with an agreement in place.
  3. Can I get divorced without a lawyer?
    • Yes, especially for uncontested divorces.
  4. How do I get a copy of my divorce decree?
    • Request from the court clerk where the divorce was finalized.
  5. Should I hire a divorce lawyer?
    • Consider one for complex cases or significant assets.
  6. What’s the difference between a divorce decree and a divorce certificate?
    • A decree is the court’s final order; a certificate is a document issued by the state.
  7. Can I skip the final declaration of disclosure?
    • Only if both parties agree to waive it.

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Why Choose Onward?

Onward offers comprehensive resources and personalized support to help you through this difficult period. Our platform provides:

  • Educational Modules: Learn everything you need to know about the divorce and annulment processes.
  • Divorce Coach Consultations: Get expert advice tailored to your situation.
  • Child Custody Guidance: Navigate custody agreements and visitation rights.
  • Financial Tools: Manage and divide assets with ease.

Flexible Pricing Plans

We understand that everyone's needs and financial situations are different. That's why Onward offers three pricing tiers:

  1. Free Plan: Access to three learning modules and one divorce coach consultation.
  2. Standard Plan: $50/month for unlimited modules, tools, a chatbot, and one divorce coach consultation.
  3. Premium Plan: $400/month for everything in the Standard Plan, plus a dedicated divorce coach with two monthly video calls and unlimited messaging.

Make the Right Choice for You

Choosing between divorce and annulment is a significant decision that depends on your unique circumstances. Understanding the legal grounds, processes, and implications is crucial. With Onward, you can make informed choices with confidence.

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