Many courts today are making it easier for couples to get a divorce without the expense of hiring an attorney to help them along the way. The Internet contains hundreds of web sites that claim to offer these forms to people for free.
A word of caution to those who attempt to go through with the divorce process on their own.
It is VERY important that you are certain you are using forms that are correctly formated and have been approved for use by your states judicial branch. If you attempt to try and use generic divorce forms that you have downloaded from the Internet, you may be disappointed to find out that those forms will be rejected by the court. If that happens, you could put the outcome of your divorce in jeopardy. To obtain divorce forms and information specific to your state you may elect to visit the web site referenced below.
Answers To Common Divorce Questions:
What is an "Uncontested" or "Pro-Se" divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties negotiate their own settlement rather than going to trial and letting a judge decide the issues for them. Many people find that an uncontested divorce will benefit them for several reasons. The process seems to be faster and less expensive. The parties maintain control over their future by reaching their own decisions. The Court does not impose a judgment on them after a trial. The parties are also better able to maintain (or establish) a civil relationship if they are not involved in protracted litigation with all of the positioning and leverage that a trial may invoke. The reduced hostility makes it easier for divorced parents to raise children together.
Do I need a lawyer?
You do not need to have a lawyer, but it is a good idea to retain one if you and your spouse do not agree on the terms defined in your Petition For Divorce or if your spouse has a lawyer. If you are afraid for your safety or your children's safety, or if you want help with your divorce even if you started the divorce without a lawyer.
What does uncontested mean?
Uncontested means your spouse has agreed with what you have asked for in your Petition For Divorce, or your spouse is not fighting your Petition For Divorce, or your spouse does not answer your Petition For Divorce before your court date.
How much will it cost to file for a divorce?
When you bring your Original Petition For Divorce to the court clerks office for filing, you should expect to pay between $ 250.00 to $ 300.00 depending on your state and your county. You will also need to have several forms notarized. A notary will charge between $ 5.00 and $ 10.00 to notarize a document. When children are involved, other additional court expenses may arise if the court orders DNA tests or drug screens. These tests typically cost $ 125.00 for drug screens and $ 500.00 for DNA tests. If the presiding judge over your case orders you or your spouse to submit to these tests, in most cases they will require you to take them the same day you appear for your initial hearing. Also, most often when children are involved in the divorce, the court will appoint an attorney for the children. This is done to have a neutral opinion on the children's best interests. The typical fee for the Ad Litem attorney is around $ 500.00. You are expected to pay this fee and any other court ordered expenses promptly to avoid the possibility of putting your case in jeopardy. The judge may not allow you to wait until you get paid. Some judges may want to test to see if you have a support group with enough resources to act on behalf of the children in an emergency type situation. This will be the case even if you are able to get the judge to agree to an "inability to pay affidavit." This affidavit is only for paying the court cost for filing your petition and not the judges special orders. You will be required to pay for court ordered drug tests, DNA tests, parenting classes, Ad Litem legal fees, etc.
Can I get legal advice from employees of the court?
No. Only lawyers can give you legal advice. No one at court can tell you what to do about your case. This means you cannot ask the judge, court clerks or other court staff for advice about your case.
If you do not use a lawyer, make sure that you learn about your rights. Getting a divorce can be very complicated. Even if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you should try to speak with a lawyer in your area about what to put in your Petition For Divorce. Some lawyers will give you advice as you need it. This is called "unbundled services". Other lawyers are only available if you retain their services.
What does "grounds for divorce" mean?
Grounds for divorce is the term used to describe the reason (s) you are seeking a divorce. You can ask the court to grant you a divorce based on adultery, cruelty, abandonment, your spouse has been convicted of a felony offense and has been incarcerated. You have been living apart, or your spouse has been committed to a mental institution with little or no hope of recovery. These reasons are not all inclusive. If you are uncertain as to what grounds for divorce you wish to claim then you will want to consult with a licensed attorney or your local legal aid office.
What if I do not know where my spouse is living or how to contact them?
You do not need to know where your spouse is in order to get divorced. However you will need to complete a few special forms which will prove to the court that you have done everything within reason to try and locate your spouse.
What can I do if my spouse is hurting or threatening me or my children?
Every state has laws designed to protect victims of family violence whether they are getting a divorce or not. If you have already filed for a divorce, the court may grant you emergency orders to protect you and the children involved in your divorce. If you have not started the divorce process, you can apply for a protective order if you fear that you or your children are in danger. Your local woman's shelter, county attorney's office, district attorney's office or your local legal aid office can assist you in applying for a protective order. To locate the office nearest you and to obtain information on the various services they can offer please contact the National Hotline For Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Below is a list of some of the forms you will need to complete a do it yourself divorce:
Complete Step By Step Instructions Set
Original Petition For Divorce
Original Answer Form
Waiver Of Citation
Affidavit For Inability To Pay
Affidavit For Citation By Posting
Certificate Of Last Known Address
Certificate Of Service
Final Divorce Decree
Testimony For Divorce – What To Say In Court
Supporting Affidavit For Citation By Posting
Citation Legal Notice
Affidavit For Default Judgment
Statement Of Evidence
Citation Of Substitute Services
Child Support Order
Parent Rights And Duties
Child Visitation Order
Support Order For Employer Withholdings
Out Of State Spouse Affidavit
Application And Instructions For Protective Order
Marriage Settlement Agreement
Divorce Order, Child Visitation Order, Custody And Support Order Modification Kit
Child Support Information And Calculator