Do-it-Yourself Uncontested Divorce

By Katie Yancey

An uncontested divorce is considered a "Do-It-Yourself" or "Pro Se" Uncontested Divorce provided that a lawyer does not represent either spouse. Uncontested divorce requires both spouses to agree on family issues that include child custody and property division. It is a good option for those who would like to keep costs minimal, reduce stress levels, and protect their children from divorce litigation. When considering a do-it-yourself uncontested divorce, learn about your state's requirements and procedures before proceeding.

Starting a Divorce

Obtain and complete the required court forms for the divorce procedure at the clerk's office in your local Judicial District courthouse. The court forms vary by state, but generally consist of a summons, the divorce complaint and the court order notice. If your spouse lives in a different state, check with your local Judicial District courthouse for the required forms. Fill out an application for waiver of fees if you cannot afford the court fees. It is important to file this form before the papers are served to your spouse.

Take the court forms to the court clerk's office where the court clerk will sign your Summons, and return it to you along with the Complaint and Court Order Notice. If you are applying for an application for a waiver of fees, the court clerk can witness your sworn signature. Obtain a list of state marshals for the Judicial District where your spouse lives or works through the court clerk if your spouse lives in a different state.

Contact a state marshal in the judicial district where your spouse lives or works. Arrange to give the state marshal the Summons, Complaint and Court Order Notice court forms and make payment arrangements. File the Return of Service document that the state marshal prepared with the court clerk at least six days before the Return Date. Make sure that the state marshal is available to serve your spouse at least twelve days before the Return Date.

File the original Summons, Complaint and Court Order Notice court forms, the state marshal's return of service, and the filing fee (or the original Application for Waiver of Fees if it was granted by the judge) at the Court Clerk's office either in person or through the mail. Note that the court clerk must receive these forms and fees at least six days before the Return Date.

Responding to a Divorce

File an Appearance form to tell the court that you are acting as your own attorney. It is best to file this form with the court clerk no more than two days after the Return Date.

File an Answer form as it tells the court whether you agree or disagree with the statements in the Complaint. File a Cross Complaint form as well to allow the divorce to continue even if your spouse decides to withdraw the case.

File a motion with the court clerk at any time during the divorce judgment to ask the court to enter court orders regarding alimony, child support, custody, visitation and exclusive possession of property.

Finalizing a Divorce

Prepare a Financial Affidavit at least five days and not more than thirty days before the court hearing. Have a notary public, an attorney or a court clerk witness your signatures. Prepare other court documents that may be required by your state.

Take all of your completed forms with you on the day of your court hearing.

Pay a fee to obtain a certified or non-certified copy of the judgment form after the Divorce Judgment is signed. If you only need written proof of your divorce, complete and submit a change of name form along with the fee at the court clerk's office.

About the Author

Katie Yancey is a blog writer in Fredericksburg, VA, and has been writing since 2006. Her news bites and commentary regularly appeared in Food & Water Watch's Smorgasboard. Yancey received her Master of Fine Arts degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design, and shares her love of art and food in her writings.