Divorce papers are the documents that are required to complete a divorce procedure. Individual state laws govern specific divorce paperwork requirements and can vary widely depending on the state in which you reside. A good rule of thumb concerning all divorce papers is to never sign ANY paperwork without a complete and clear understanding of what it is you are signing. If you are at all unclear as to what you are being asked to sign, get a lawyer. A divorce attorney can help you understand and handle the pa perwork involved in a divorce in the way that best represents your legal interests.
Divorce papers verify the details of a divorce in writing and become part of the public record once they are filed with the court. Typically, there are several standard documents a person will need to have access to before filing divorce papers including a marriage license, birth certificates, insurance papers, property and vehicle titles, tax records, banking account info and any other related financial information.
The completed divorce paperwork that is filed with the court will include all details of property and asset divisions, as well as the assignation of existing debt and all future debts. If the divorce involves dependant children, the papers will specify the exact terms of child custody, visitation and support payment. Finalized divorce papers will also detail all property divisions including real property as well as the transfer of titles, deeds and bank accounts.
In cases of a very simple or uncontested divorce, you might be tempted to file you own divorce papers, but any error in paperwork can have long-lasting and expensive effects. It is always better to have the assistance of a divorce attorney who can represent your interests in court and make sure all your divorce papers are filed correctly and completely without mistakes. If there are areas of the divorce that are contested, it is almost mandatory to have legal representation on your side. If the other party in the divorce already has legal representation, you will definitely need an attorney too. Finalized divorce papers will have a lasting effect on your quality of life for years to come and it is absolutely critical that they are prepared correctly.
Once you have decided to initiate a divorce, you and your attorney will have to prepare a divorce petition or summons to be filed with the court. Those initial divorce papers must be legally served on your spouse and proof of that service obtained in one of the following five ways:
- Accept of Service: Divorce paperwork personally delivered to your spouse and signed and dated to verify the summons was received.
- First Class Mail: Divorce papers mailed with an acknowledgment form that must be signed, dated, and returned.
- Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested: Divorce papers mailed with a detachable card attached. The “return receipt card” is mailed back and serves as proof of service.
- Personal Service: Divorce papers served by a Sheriff or professional process server which are filed with the court.
- By Publication: In cases where other methods fail, the court can allow service by publication of the divorce petition in a newspaper for a specified amount of time.