Filing for a divorce is an emotionally draining event. It’s also mentally draining; in addition to going through the divorce process, you will also need to fill out and file a lot of divorce paperwork. Some of it will seem like duplication and some might seem nitpicky, but it’s all necessary if you want to get through your divorce as quickly and smoothly as possible. The exact documents and templates will differ depending on your state, but here is a list of documents you’ll likely need as you file your divorce paperwork.
Dissolution of Marriage Form
You or your spouse will need to file a dissolution of marriage form with the court as part of your divorce paperwork. This is the document that requests the divorce. Depending on your state, you might need to state the reason for the divorce and what you would like to get in terms of custody, alimony, and the division of assets. If you file the dissolution of marriage form, your spouse will be served with the papers. They might be served by you, by mail, or in person from someone assigned by the court or the county. If your spouse files the divorce paperwork, then you’ll be served.
Because you will be dividing your assets, the judge will need a lot of financial paperwork from both spouses. These documents might include tax returns, bank statements, proof of your current income, retirement account statements, mortgage statements, property tax statements, documents showing that you own stocks and bonds, loan documents, utility bills, and any other documents you have showing what assets you have and what you owe (as well as what assets your spouse has and what he or she owes). In addition, you’ll need to submit any prenuptial agreements that the two of you have.
Your lawyer or legal resource group will help you compile this information and fill out the divorce paperwork required. Since many of your assets and liabilities are likely to be in both of your names, the judge will take all of this into consideration.
If you have wills, powers of attorney, living wills, and other legal documents pertaining to the marriage, marital assets, or the children, the court will want these, as well. This is not a full list; you’ll need to work with a legal professional to determine what types of document you’ll need to provide as part of your divorce paperwork. The paperwork needed will differ depending on what types of legal documents you and your spouse have had prepared over the years.
If you have children, you will need to come up with a plan for how you will continue to parent them. In almost all cases (cases of abuse and neglect sometimes excepted), children are allowed to and encouraged to develop a relationship with both parents. This means that both you and your spouse will have the children at different times. If there is a history of abuse, severe mental illness, or anything else that might make one of you unsafe to be around, supervised visitation might be required.
A parenting plan submitted as part of your divorce paperwork addresses some of these issues. It will spell out who will have legal and physical custody of the children. It will determine where they will live, who will have them on the weekends, who will decide which school they go to or whether they need to see a doctor, and who will spend which holidays with them. Some divorcing couples will be able to come up with a fair and agreeable plan on their own; others will need to sit down with a mediator to figure it out and finalize the divorce paperwork. In some cases, a court case is needed to determine who will have the children.
Divorce Paperwork Settlement Agreement
Once you go through the process of getting your divorce, you’ll receive your settlement agreement. This is the divorce paperwork provided by the court that spells out who will get physical custody of the children, whether one spouse will be paid alimony, who will get the house (and how much the person moving out will be paid, if anything), who will get which percentages of the retirement funds or stocks, and so on. This is a legally binding document and it must be followed or else one of you could be held in contempt of court, have to pay fees, or, rarely, even end up in jail.
There is a lot of divorce paperwork involved in filing for and completing a divorce and it might seem overwhelming at times. A legal resource group can provide divorce help and work through the divorce paperwork with you so you can get through this difficult time with a minimum of stress and without spending thousands of dollars on a private attorney. You might be surprised that you can represent yourself in court during your divorce. If money is tight, look into this option to help you navigate the process without forgetting about any of the necessary divorce paperwork.