Filing and Serving the Divorce/Dissolution Petition

If you are seeking a divorce or dissolution of your marriage, you must file a legal document in the family court. This is known as the divorce/dissolution petition. In some states this document is referred to as the complaint. This document informs the court that the filing spouse generally referred to as the Petitioner is desirous of ending the marriage. The filing of the petition marks the beginning of the divorce process. The petition is then served on the other spouse notify that spouse, generally referred to as the Defendant or the Respondent about the divorce process.

Information and Requests

The exact format of the petition varies from state to state. It generally contains the following information:

• Name and address of both spouses

• Details of the marriage such as date and place

• Whether there are any children from the marriage and their details

• Statement that the filing spouse or the other spouse has been living in the jurisdiction of the court for time required by the residency requirements of the state

• The grounds on which the filing spouse is seeking a divorce

• How the filing spouse wants to settle the basic issues of the divorce – child custody & support, property division, alimony.

Temporary Orders

Besides the above mentioned information, the petition may also seek temporary orders on certain issues of the divorce while the process in ongoing. If the court passes any temporary order, they will generally remain effective until the final divorce decree is passed. The temporary orders may relate to issues like:

• Primary custody of the children
• Visitation Rights
• Alimony
• Child Support
• Martial Home
• Financial issues

Place of Filing

Divorce is regulated by state law. You must file the petition or complaint in the state court having jurisdiction over your place of residence – generally the branch of your state superior or circuit court located in your county. Click for more information on the place of filing.

Service of the Petition

Once you have filed your divorce/dissolution petition, you must serve it on your spouse. The service of the petition must be done according to your state law. Please check with your state law. The service must be in accordance with the state law. Otherwise, the court will not proceed with your case.

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