If you are contemplating a divorce, you will find a lot of advice from friends, family and even the internet. The most common suggestion is that you need to get a skilled attorney and fight for every spatula and every towel in the house. However, sometimes it is possible to have an amicable divorce; some married couples are better off as friends than spouses. If this is the case, it is fairly simple to handle your own divorce without paying an attorney. This is called a "Pro Se" divorce, as you are representing yourself.
Most counties now have do-it-yourself divorce forms online. If your county doesn't have these forms online, you can likely get them from your state's website. These forms consist of several documents. The first is the actual divorce petition; you will need to fill this form out in its entirety and submit to the clerk of the court with your filing fees. Your spouse must be notified that you are petitioning for divorce; this notification may be done by certified mail, or by Sheriff or professional process server. You may also have to submit forms detailing your income and assets for the judge or magistrate to peruse. You will also have to submit other paperwork as required by your county; divorce laws are different from state to state, and some counties have their own specific requirements. You can find these requirements on your county's court website.
Child Support and Custody
If you have children with your spouse, you will need to account for child custody and child support arrangements. Most states have these forms available online, and many states have easy-to-use child support calculators that take the guesswork out of the process. Make sure you fill out the child custody and child support forms completely and include information on your child's health insurance. You may also be required to take a parenting class for divorcing parents; you will be required to submit course completion documentation to the court before your divorce can be granted.
Waiver of Filing Fees
If you are handling your divorce paperwork without the assistance of an attorney, you may not have extra room in your budget to pay the filing fees to file your petition with the court. In this case, most counties will allow you to fill out forms requesting a waiver of filing fees if you can't afford them. You will need to show proof of income to justify a fee waiver, but it can be done.
If you have any questions regarding any of the forms required to obtain a divorce in your county, you should contact the local Self-Help Legal or Legal Aid Society in your county. These offices have volunteers on hand to walk you through the process and ensure your paperwork is correct. One simple error or omission could cause the judge or magistrate to reject your petition for divorce, further delaying the process. It is better to take extra time to consult a volunteer and get the paperwork correct on the first try.