How to Fill Out Divorce Forms

By Leslie Bloom - Updated October 15, 2018

While the process of divorce is never easy, filling out the necessary forms doesn’t have to be complicated – especially when there are so many self-help options online.

When you go through a divorce, there are seemingly endless forms that need to be filled out and submitted to the court. You want to make sure every divorce form you need is as accurate and complete as possible before submitting it so that the judge has all of the information needed to grant your divorce in a timely manner.

What Forms Are Needed for Divorce?

The forms you need for your divorce depend on the state you live in. Each state has its own laws relating to divorce, and its own required paperwork. Needed divorce paperwork can include a petition, complaint, summons, child custody, parenting plan and proof of service. Some states require a cover sheet that must be included with the paperwork.

You should check with the court in your county to determine which divorce paperwork you must submit. Most county courts have a self-help page on their websites where you can access needed forms.

How to Fill Out a Divorce Form

Every divorce form contains a set of instructions that walks you through the form. Be sure to carefully read through the instructions so that you have everything you need and don’t overlook anything.

If there are any terms in the divorce paperwork that you don’t understand, be sure to check with someone to find out what they mean. You want to make sure that you understand completely everything you’re filling out and every question you’re being asked.

When you fill out a divorce form, answer each question as accurately as possible. Be sure to be honest in your answers, as these are documents being submitted to court.

Once you have completely filled out all the needed divorce paperwork, you must do two things. You must serve the paperwork on your spouse or domestic partner to give notice of the documents and the action being taken. You must also officially submit the documents to the court.

How to Submit a Divorce Form

All divorce paperwork must be printed, filled out, signed and filed with the court. How you submit your divorce paperwork again depends on the county where you submit. Depending on the county, you can submit your divorce paperwork in person, by mail or online.

There is typically a fee required to submit your divorce paperwork. This should be submitted at the same time as the paperwork. If you can’t afford the fee, you may ask the court to waive it.

Getting Help Filling out Divorce Papers

Whether you opt to work with an attorney for help filling out divorce papers is up to you. Doing so will help you make sure nothing is overlooked and that all the needed information gets submitted.

Many courts also offer in-person self-help centers where you can walk in and get help filling out divorce papers. This is a good option if you cannot afford an attorney or just have a few questions that need answers.

Other courts provide online video tutorials on the process of getting a divorce and how to fill out needed paperwork. Some even offer an automated divorce interview that completes forms automatically after you provide some necessary information.

If you don’t want help filling out divorce papers and choose to do the forms yourself, make sure you access the correct forms and take the time needed to fill them out. Don’t rush to fill out the forms when you are heading out the door. Set aside quiet time to concentrate, read the instructions and make sure you include all the needed information.

About the Author

Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.

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