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The day you walked down the aisle there was no thought of divorce on the horizon, unfortunately is has now become necessary. The good news is that not every divorce needs to be messy, and you don’t always need an attorney representation. Here are the basics of how to file for divorce.

Filing for Divorce in Your State

You can go to the your state's court website or your local courthouse to obtain divorce forms (each state has its own forms).  If you work with an attorney they will file the divorce for you.


You (the plaintiff) will file the petition and have it served to your spouse (the defendant).  The document will specify that you are asking for a divorce and the reason.  

Your spouse will then respond to the petition. Each side can then request to obtain documents (such as bank statements) from each other so that both sides have the information when negotiating finances. 

If your are not able to negotiate a settlement, a trial is scheduled, and the judge hears both sides and makes a determination.  Depending on the complexity this can take days.

Requirements for Filing


Each state is different when it comes to how long you have to live in the state before you can file for divorce, grounds for divorce and waiting periods after filing.

Residency Requirements

When you decide that it's time to divorce you must meet the residency requirement for the state that you live in at the time you file.  Each state will require that you reside in the state for a specific period of time prior to filing.  This varies from state to state so you will need to check your state laws.  

Waiting Period

Filling the petition is just the beginning of your divorce process.  Even if you and your spouse agree on all terms, the state may require a waiting period before it is finalized.  Waiting periods vary by state.  

Grounds for Divorce

The grounds for a divorce is the reason you have filed for a divorce. All states have no-fault divorce, this means neither spouse is at fault. However, most states also offer grounds such as adultery, imprisonment, abandonment or cruel and inhuman treatment. If you use any of the grounds mentioned about you must provide proof.

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