Filing for a divorce can cause a lot of emotional upheaval. One thing that can make this process easier is knowing exactly what documents you’ll need.
A divorce case will begin when you or your spouse file a dissolution of marriage form. You’ll also need to provide a lot of legal and financial documents. If you have children, you’ll create a parenting plan as well.
The more organized your document file is, the more supporting evidence you’ll have for your case. Plus, organizing your divorce paperwork will help you feel more in control during this overwhelming process.
Now, a lot of states have different laws and different divorce forms. That said, these four divorce documents are common across the board.
Dissolution of Marriage Form
The dissolution of marriage form is what you need to start a divorce. It includes information such as when you got married and the grounds for divorce. You or your spouse must file this form and either pay a filing fee or get it waived.
If only one of you files for divorce, they’ll need to notify the other via a summons. Receiving a summons gives the other party a deadline for filing a response. In some states, someone other than you will need to serve a summons by hand.
In almost all divorce cases, you and your spouse will each need to file a financial affidavit. This document lists your income, debts, property, and expenses. The judge uses this information to divide up property, award attorneys’ fees, and so on.
As a general rule, your financial documents should be as accurate as possible. There’s a chance you’ll need to defend your affidavit’s numbers in court or deposition. Make sure to include everything from your tax returns to utility bills.
If you have children, the parenting plan will describe when they’ll be with each parent. It also states who will pay for expenses such as college tuition. The plan covers medical emergencies, vacations, decisions about education, and more.
Many legal documents of this kind follow a standard format. That said, it’s possible to share parenting responsibilities in many different ways. Even if you and your spouse agree on the basics, consider hiring a divorce attorney to help develop the plan.
Before a divorce is final, you and your spouse must agree on all issues. These include child support, child custody, alimony, dividing your property, and so on. If you disagree on some issues, you may need the help of a lawyer or mediator.
Once this is over, you and your spouse will receive the settlement agreement. You’ll each need to sign it and file it with the court. The agreement is legally binding, and not following it could see you paying fees or even ending up in jail.
More on Key Divorce Documents
As you can see, there are a lot of divorce documents you’ll need to keep track of. Some of these may seem nitpicky or like duplicates, but they’re all necessary for getting through a divorce as smoothly as possible.
Want to know more about the finer details of divorce paperwork and why it’s essential for your case? Keep reading our legal-related articles!