The first step to dissolve a marriage is to draft a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The petition is a legal document that asks the court to dissolve the marriage according to the conditions requested in the petition. The petition provides the court with all of the information necessary to begin the dissolution process, and is your chance to ask the court for exactly what you want regarding alimony, division of assets and liabilities, child custody, visitation and child support.
Create the style of the petition. The style is the caption at the top of the petition that identifies the case for which the petition is filed. The style contains the names of the parties, judicial circuit number, county, state and case number. Identify yourself as the "Petitioner" and your spouse as the "Respondent."
Skip two lines below the style and type "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" in the center of the line.
Skip two more lines and insert the following language: "I, (your full name), (wife/husband), hereby swear that the following statements are true:"
List basic information about your marriage, including how long you and your spouse have been living in your state of residence, whether you or your spouse are members of the military, the date and place of marriage and the date of separation, if applicable.
List all minor children of the marriage, including unborn children and minor children born to only one parent; provide their names, birthdates, birthplaces and sex. A child is a minor if he is less than 18 years of age.
Provide a reason for the dissolution of marriage. The most common response is that the marriage is "irreparably broken."
List all marital assets and liabilities. Assets include a house, furniture, jewelry, cash or any other tangible property. Liabilities include credit card bills, mortgages, car loans or any other debts. Ask the court to distribute all assets and liabilities according to state law.
State whether you are requesting alimony (spousal support). There are several types of alimony, so refer to your state's laws to determine the types of alimony for which you are eligible. You are not limited to only one type of alimony; you may request all types of alimony that are applicable to you. Inform the court that your spouse has the ability to pay alimony.
Explain the current living situation for your minor children, including their primary residence and the times they visit the parent not living at the primary residence. Declare who you want to have custody, and describe what visitation arrangements you want with your spouse.
Ask that your spouse pay child support, and inform the court that you will file any applicable child support worksheets required by law. Specify the date on which you want child support payments to start, who should pay for medical and dental insurance for the children and whether your spouse should buy life insurance to secure child support payments.
Create a signature block at the bottom of the petition listing your name, address and phone number. Indicate that you are representing yourself by typing the words "pro se" or "in pro per" directly below your name in the signature block.
Sign the petition.