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The spouse filing for divorce must do so in the state where he or she meets the legal residency requirements. Furthermore, you must file in the correct county or risk having your case dismissed. Learn more about your state’s residency requirements and jurisdiction from our LegalVorce team or online at LegalVorce.com.
The divorce process begins with a divorce petition. This form is completed by one spouse (the plain- tiff or petitioner) and served to the other (the respondent). The petition includes important information, such as:
• contact information for each spouse;
• date and location of marriage;
• grounds for divorce;
• residency and jurisdiction;
• names, ages, and custody arrangements of children, including child support;
• spousal support; and,
• community property and separate property.
Your LegalVorce package will include a petition that is customized based on your answers to our online interview. Remember to use only blue or black ink when filling out the forms. Make copies of the petition for your personal records and for the respondent, or served spouse.
It’s standard practice to file for a divorce petition in the county court where you live, granted you meet the residency requirements. Come to the county clerk’s office prepared with the original paper- work and copies. Once the files are submitted to the clerk, they will be stamped, filed and copies will be returned to you.
A filing fee is also required at this time to commence the divorce process. These fees vary from state to state, ranging from $100 to $500. Remember to keep the receipt given to you by the clerk. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may submit a fee waiver request, also known as an In Forma Pauperis Affidavit, or IFP Affidavit. These requests are typically granted if your income falls well below the federal poverty level. Contact your local county clerk to find out more about seeking and obtaining a fee waiver.
Next, the petition must be served on the other spouse, also known as “service of process.” The document can be served in one of a few ways:
• Personal Service: A legal adult physically hands the document to your spouse, then signs an affidavit describing the service. In some states, personal servers can be family members, friends, law enforcement personnel or professional process servers.
• Service by Mail: Some jurisdictions allow the document to be sent through USPS with return receipt requested to confirm the petition was sent to the spouse’s place of legal residence.
• Service by Publication: In unique situations, a spouse cannot be located. Select jurisdictions permit publication of a notice in a newspaper where it’s believed the spouse resides. The length of time a notice needs to be published varies, but generally speaking it can be in print for several weeks or months.
If both spouses are in agreement on the divorce, then you won’t likely have to go through formal service. Instead, your spouse will sign an acknowledgment of service of process or another document included in your LegalVorce packet that will be filed with the clerk. The act of signing a service of process form is often used to start the clock for the timeframe in which the non-filing spouse has to submit a response. Pay attention to this date if you are being served.
Serving your spouse can become more challenging if he or she is an active military service person or incarcerated. Discuss approaches and best practices with your LegalVorce consultant or go online to learn more about divorces when one spouse is in the military.