The divorce process can be extremely stressful, expensive, and full of conflict. This is true for a contested divorce where the parties cannot agree on the major issues of the divorce. In these cases, the parties need the help of the court (and likely divorce lawyers) to reach an agreement.
However, what if you and your ex agree on all of the major issues? Is there a way to bypass the time and expense of a fully litigated divorce proceeding? An uncontested divorce is where the divorcing couple agrees on all terms of the divorce. Some of the terms of a divorce case include:
If you and your ex can come to a written agreement on all or most of these issues, and your state permits it, you may be able to file a joint petition for dissolution of marriage. The joint petition details the agreement you and your ex have reached. The petition shows the court that it does not need to determine these issues for you. This collaborative approach often leads to a more streamlined approach. A joint petition reduces the need for court hearings and allows the parties to have more control over the outcome. Below you will find a sample joint divorce petition.
Sample Joint Petition for Divorce
We, ________[name], Spouse 1, and ________[name], Spouse 2, make the following statements:
1. We both are requesting a dissolution of our marriage.
2. Spouse 1 is a resident of ________ County, State of ________, and has been a resident since ________[Date]. Spouse 2 is a resident of ________ County, State of ________, and has been a resident since ________[Date].
3. We were married to each other on ________[date] in the City of ________, County of ________, State or Country of ________.
4. Our marriage is ________[irretrievably broken or has serious, permanent differences or as statutorily authorized].
5. Together, we have no dependent or minor children and neither Spouse is pregnant.
6. We have made a marital settlement agreement dividing our property and our bills. We are satisfied with this agreement. The attached agreement was signed freely and voluntarily by each of us, and we intend to be bound by it.
7. [If required: We have each filled out and signed financial statements that are attached to this petition.]
8. [If applicable: ________[name] wants to have their former name restored to ________].
9. We each certify that we have not been threatened or pressured into signing this request. We each understand that the result of signing this request may be a final dissolution of our marriage with no further relief.
10. We each understand that we are both required to appear before the judge to testify to the matters contained in this request.
11. We understand that we each may have legal rights against each other arising out of the marriage and that by signing this request, we may be giving up those rights.
12. Neither of us is a member of the military.
13. We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and enforce the marital settlement agreement.
[Signatures by Each Spouse]
JOINT DIVORCE PETITION
Note: This petition is only a sample petition worksheet. Each state (and courts within each state) has its own requirements regarding the content, format, and formalities of a joint divorce petition. Therefore, you should always refer to the state laws and rules for the family court in which you will be filing your petition. For more general information, feel free to check out FindLaw's section on Divorce.
What Do I Do With the Joint Petition?
As noted above, each state has different requirements for filing divorce papers. Here are some general steps you can take after completing the joint petition:
- Review the petition: It's important to review the petition to ensure all information is accurate and complete.
- Seek legal advice: You may want to seek legal advice from a family law attorney before proceeding with a divorce. You can get guidance on your specific situation and help navigating the legal process.
- Complete necessary court forms: Fill out any additional forms required by your jurisdiction. These may include an affidavit of irreconcilable differences or financial disclosure forms. You should complete any other documents mandated by the court.
- Sign the petition: Both parties must sign the petition and any other accompanying documents in the presence of a notary. Notarization ensures the authenticity of the signatures.
- File the petition: File the petition and pay any required filing fees to the appropriate court. The court may grant a waiver if you cannot afford the fees. The clerk's office will provide you with a case number and stamped copies of your filed documents.
- Serve the other party: In some jurisdictions, you may need to serve a copy of the filed joint petition to your ex-spouse. The court may have specific rules about acceptable methods of service. The spouse who receives the filing is the respondent. The spouse who files the document is the petitioner.
- Await court response: After filing the joint petition, the court will review the documents. If everything is in order, the court will typically issue a divorce decree or schedule a hearing.
- Attend court hearing (if required): A judge may issue a court hearing to resolve outstanding issues or to clarify certain aspects of the divorce. Make sure to attend any scheduled hearing and bring any required documents or evidence as requested by the court.
- Finalize the divorce: The court finalizes the joint petition and any related agreements, and all necessary hearings and waiting periods (if applicable) have passed. The court will issue a final divorce decree in a court order, which legally ends the marriage. Court fees may apply throughout the process. An attorney can explain any anticipated expenses.
Talk to an Attorney About Joint Divorce Petitions
After reading this, you will likely have more specific questions and will want to learn more about the laws governing joint divorce petitions in your state or county. A good way to have your inquiries answered is by contacting a divorce attorney in your area. A divorce attorney can explain how a joint petition works in the real world, help you figure out if it's right for your situation, and could even prepare the joint petition for you.
Talk to an experienced divorce attorney in your area today.