Motion Vs. Petition

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The divorce process can involve significant paperwork. Most jurisdictions require the parties to first make all important requests to the court in writing. This provides the judge with an opportunity to review both sides of the issues before holding a hearing or ruling on the matter. These requests are known as either petitions or motions, depending on their purpose and when in the case they are filed.

Requests in Divorce Proceedings

A petition, also referred to as a complaint in some states, is the document that one party files to initiate a divorce. This document contains basic information about you and your spouse, the reason for the divorce and certain disclosures regarding property and children. By contrast, a motion is a written request to a judge by either party regarding a specific issue after the divorce case has been filed. Unlike the petition, which is filed only once, you can file several types of motions throughout the divorce proceeding that cover a wide range of topics. For example, you can file a motion that asks the court for a temporary order for spousal support or a motion to reschedule the date of a hearing.


About the Author

Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."

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