When people are unhappy in their marriages, they have a few options. They can push through it and try to save the marriage, they can separate, or they can file for divorce. If you’re in a situation in which divorce is the only option, you’ll need to consult with a lawyer so you can take all the correct steps. The divorce will legally end your marriage, but there are a lot of things to consider in the process. How do you file for divorce?
Complete the Complaint or Petition
A complaint, which is often known as a petition for divorce, is the document you must complete and file with the court. In the complaint, you’ll outline the reason for the divorce, citing evidence of what led up to your decision. In a complaint or petition, you’ll basically be asking the court to end the marriage. If you complete a complaint, you’ll refer to yourself as the plaintiff, and your spouse as the defendant. If you complete a petition, you’ll be the petitioner and your spouse will be the respondent.
File the Documents
After you have completed the complaint or petition, you will need to take it to the courthouse to get it officially filed. There is a filing fee you should be prepared to pay at that time.
Notify Your Spouse
You may have heard others refer to “being served,” and that’s exactly what will happen next. Someone will deliver, or serve, the documents to your spouse. You could do this yourself if the divorce is amicable, but most people have a local sheriff or professional server do it instead. This protects you while ensuring your spouse is notified of the request for divorce. Whoever serves the documents should get a signed receipt of delivery.
Wait for a Response
Your spouse will have a chance to respond to the complaint or petition. This might be a nerve-racking waiting period for you as you wonder what he or she will say about your request. Perhaps the best thing you can do is keep your distance and not engage in conversations or other social gatherings with your spouse during this time.
Follow the Process
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce, it may take time before your divorce is final. Some states have a required waiting period, custody of your children might play a role and a variety of other issues could get in the way, but it’s important you allow the process to play out.
Hire a Lawyer
When you’re in a marriage you know isn’t going to last much longer, it’s important you take care of yourself by hiring legal counsel to help you get started.