If paying thousands of dollars for a divorce attorney to file some paperwork is not something you can afford to do you have the option to file your own divorce without the help of an attorney. Here we will go over the steps that are needed to complete the filing process and show you how to file your own divorce.
How to File Your Own Divorce:Â
Gather your forms to begin the process of filing your divorce. You can typically pick up a divorce or dissolution packet that contains all of the forms that you will need from the county clerks office or county courthouse and these will help walk you through part of the process on how to file your own divorce. This packet on average will be approximately 50 pages long.
Get together all of your paperwork. When you file your own divorce (and even if you have assistance) you will need to have access to bank statements, mortgage papers, income (for both you and your spouse) and all other shared debts, expenses or incomes that have been used together to support each other or the household.
Talk to your spouse before filing your petition for dissolution. You want to see if you can come to an agreement, on your own, before you file as to how to split assets and bills or as to who will have custody of the children or any pets. If you are able to agree then the proceedings will move a lot smoother and you will be able to avoid some potential hang-ups.
Fill out your divorce papers completely and accurately, sign them and then double check them. All the information that you provide when you file must be accurate and filled out thoroughly.
Consider picking up a legal reference book from your local library that can help explain the legal terminologies that are used frequently throughout the forms. This will help prevent mistakes that can hinder the filing process and outcome.
If the process of learning how to file your own divorce has you a bit nervous there are plenty of step by step books, cd's and even online services that can help you with any questions that may arise. If you go through a paid service such as helpyourselfdivorce.com or completecase.com you can omit steps 1 and 3 as you will enter your information online and they will fill out your forms for you and as required by the laws and specifications of your state. They then mail you or allow you to print off all of the completed forms, as well as instructions on what to do next and how to complete the filing of your own divorce.
Turn in your forms to the county clerk's office or courthouse and pay your filing fees - fees to file for divorce average around $150. You will then be mailed a duplicate of the forms that you submitted to them, so that you have a copy for your records and the future proceedings. You should also receive the date of your scheduled court hearing at this time.
**Note to those reading "How to File Your Own Divorce": When you file your divorce paperwork you must do so in a county where you or your spouse are considered a resident. There may be different requirements depending on your location as to what deems you a resident but typically it means residing in that county continually for a minimum of 6 months to a year. Staff at the court house will be able to assist you in finding out this information.Â
Notify the respondent (otherwise known as your spouse). Notification of your spouse is a key step in the filing process and one that needs to be done properly whether you learn how to file your own divorce or go through and attorney or service. The actual expectations and requirements for notification may vary from state to state so that is something to look into before or at the time that you file your paperwork. Some common notifications processes that can be used to notify your significant other (may vary by location) Â are: advertising in newspaper, certified (signature required) mail delivery of notification, have him served by a process server or persons over the age of 18 that is non-family (verification will be required such as an "Acceptance of Service" form or other legally verifying process - signature delivery etc).Â
Most often to notify the respondent you will mail a certified letter of notification to their home or last known address, hand deliver directly to them and have them sign a notice that they've received notification, hire a process server to serve the papers or have it published in the local paper of the city in which they reside.
When the court date comes make sure you bring all of your paperwork and are dressed respectfully whether the divorce is contested or uncontested the judge will have a final say in what happens so you need to be on your best behavior and give a good first impression.
Speak only when spoken to, refrain from any degrading comments to or about your spouse and always speak clearly and with respect. These are all factors that a judge will take notice of and if you are learning how to file your own divorce they are also points an attorney won't be around to instruct you on.Â