Table of Contents:
- Can You File for Divorce Pro Se in Minnesota?
- How to Get a Divorce in North Carolina Without a Lawyer
- Filing for Divorce Pro Se in Oklahoma
- How to Get a Divorce in Pennsylvania Without a Lawyer
- How to Do Your Own Divorce In New Mexico
- Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Missouri
- Do It Yourself Divorce in Illinois
- Do it Yourself Divorce in Oregon
Minnesota law allows you to obtain a "pro se" divorce, which simply means that you are not represented by counsel. For your convenience, the mncourts.gov website provides the appropriate fill-in-the-blank forms for every stage of the divorce process along with instructions. You can also find the forms at your local district court. Keep in mind that the court is not allowed to provide you with legal advice. In addition, judges expect that you know and understand all the applicable rules and procedures, which can get very technical depending on the specifics of your divorce.
Obtaining a divorce without a lawyer in North Carolina is a fairly simple process, provided you have the patience to deal with some very precise rules about how, when and where to file. If you’re willing to learn, you can save a substantial amount of money by moving through the system without an attorney by your side.
Before You File
If you’re seeking a divorce in North Carolina, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months. You must also physically separate from your spouse for one year before you can file for divorce. If you’ve got assets to argue over, child custody concerns or desire spousal support after the divorce, it’s generally recommended that you seek the counsel of an attorney. These issues should be resolved before you file for divorce. Once a divorce is granted, there’s really no going back, according to North Carolina law. Thus, you may lose rights you weren’t aware you had.
Completing the Forms
The process starts with filling out a Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, a civil summons and a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. Not all forms are available at the courthouse. However, Legal Aid of North Carolina makes the process easy by offering a complete set of all the necessary forms available for print in a “Do It Yourself Divorce Packet.”
Read all of the instructions carefully, because some forms must be notarized. Many banks, libraries and accountants offer Notary Public services for a minimal fee. Plan to make copies of all the forms once you’ve completed them. You’ll need the originals for the court, one set of copies for your spouse and a set of copies for yourself.
Filing the Forms
Your next step is to file the forms with your county’s Clerk of Court office. Fees are due at the time you file and vary according to jurisdiction. You can call the court to find out the costs. If you cannot afford the fees, you may qualify to have them reduced or waived completely by filing a Petition to Sue/Appeal as an Indigent.
The sheriff’s department will deliver or “serve” a copy of the paperwork to your spouse for an additional fee. North Carolina law does not allow you to deliver it yourself. After your spouse is served, you must wait 30 days before proceeding with your case.
Once that date has passed, you’ll return to the court clerk’s office with a Notice of Hearing form. The clerk will schedule the date and time of your appearance before the judge. You must then serve your spouse a copy of the completed Notice of Hearing form at least 10 days before the hearing. You can send this form to your spouse by mail or have it served by the sheriff’s department.
Attending the Hearing
On the day of the hearing, you’ll need to bring along two copies of a Judgment of Absolute Divorce and Certificate of Absolute Divorce. Neither of these forms is available at the court, but both are included in the Do It Yourself Divorce Packet compiled by Legal Aid of North Carolina. The judge will have a few questions for you regarding your marriage and separation, and then sign the divorce documents to dissolve your marriage.
Legal Aid Clinic
Legal Aid of North Carolina offers free clinics to individuals who wish to file for a divorce without an attorney. These clinics take place several times a year in various counties throughout the state. Registration forms and further information are available on its website.
Locate an Oklahoma petition for dissolution of marriage form. This can be obtained through an online divorce program or via websites offering Oklahoma divorce forms. Fill out the form listing yourself as the petitioner and your spouse as the respondent. Choose one of the 12 grounds for divorce allowed in Oklahoma and record it on the petition. Create an affidavit that states your intention to apply for a dissolution of marriage without legal representation.
Take the petition and affidavit to a notary public and sign it before her. Have the notary public sign and notarize the petition. Make at least four copies of the paperwork and keep one copy for your records. Take the other three copies to your county clerk's office to have your petition filed. Request the court to draft a temporary order if necessary to order your spouse to take certain action or refrain from contact.
Download a waiver of appearance form and have your spouse sign it. These forms are available through the Oklahoma Bar Association and several other online form sources.
Appear in court on the date given to you by the court clerk. Take every form with you that you think you might need, as well as identification. Bring all copies of the notarized petition, waiver of appearance and affidavit that you have. After the hearing, if the judge does not request additional paperwork, the divorce is final.
Obtain a packet of divorce documents from the Pennsylvania county in which you reside; you will have to pay a fee for this packet. The packet contains all the documents needed to file for divorce: Complaint for Divorce, Decree of Divorce, Declaration under the Child Custody Act, Child Custody Jurisdiction form, Marital Settlement Agreement, Verification for Consent required by both parties, Uniform Support Petition, Summons Personal Service on an Individual, Process Service Memorandum, Non-Military Affidavit, Financial Affidavit, Motion for Health Insurance Coverage and Final Judgment Modifying Child Support.
Print out Pennsylvania divorce documents from a legal website like edivorcepapers.com. These are the same divorce papers you can obtain from your county courthouse. Legal websites usually offer instructions for filling out the documents.
Complete a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) to outline your agreements regarding the division of assets, repayment of debt, alimony, child support and custody.
Complete a financial statement from both parties in the divorce.
Fill out the Petition or Complaint form, Consent, Appearance or Waiver form, Child Custody Jurisdiction form and the Final Judgment or Decree.
Sign all the legal documents in front of a notary public. Both parties will need to be present to sign documents such as the Marital Settlement Agreement.
File the documents with the County Clerk's office in a Pennsylvania county in which one of the parties has resided for at least six months and pay the filing fees. After filing the papers, your spouse will be given the chance to file an answer for divorce before the schedules a court hearing for your divorce. Your spouse has 30 days to file an answer if he lives in Pennsylvania, 60 days if he lives outside of Pennsylvania, but within the United States, and 90 days if he lives outside the United States.
Attend the court hearing to answer questions about your understanding of the divorce documents and agreements that you have signed. The judge will review your case and may approve your divorce at the hearing or ask that you submit additional information before judgment can be made. Your judge may wish to make changes to your divorce agreement or schedule separate hearings for child custody and support agreements.
Determine that you meet the residency requirements. In order to file for a divorce in New Mexico, at least one of the parties must have lived in New Mexico for at least six months preceding the filing of the divorce.
Decide where your divorce must be filed. The divorce must be filed in the New Mexico county where either the petitioner (person filing the divorce) or the respondent (that person's spouse) lives at the time of filing.
Prepare the petition for dissolution of marriage. Forms are available from the New Mexico Courts website for either a divorce with or without minor children.
Prepare a child support worksheet if applicable. The form is also available on the New Mexico Courts website.
Make at least two copies of all forms. You will need to file the original with the clerk of courts in the county where you have determined you are filing the divorce. One set of the paperwork will be used to serve your spouse and the other set of copies you should retain for your records.
File the petition with the clerk of courts. Pay the required filing fee, which will vary by county.
Serve your spouse with the paperwork to provide notice of the divorce filing through either through the sheriff's office or a person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the divorce.
Negotiate a settlement agreement with your spouse or allow the judge to resolve any uncontested issues at the final hearing set by the court.
Draft your petition for dissolution of marriage. You can obtain a blank petition from the clerk's office of your local circuit courthouse. Missouri law allows you to claim either a fault, or no-fault divorce. If your spouse has committed adultery or other harmful or disloyal acts, you may claim a fault basis. You have the option to plead irreconcilable differences if there has been no specific spousal misconduct. If the petition is uncontested, you can include a marital asset distribution, along with any child custody and visitation arrangements you and your spouse have mutually agreed upon. Once the petition is completed, have the petition notarized and signed by both you and your spouse.
File your petition in circuit court, and pay the filing fees. Filing fees are substantial in divorce proceedings. For instance, divorce petition filing fees range from $132 to $192 in Clay County as of 2010, depending upon whether there are children of the marriage or not. Once filed, you will receive a date on your petition. If the petition has not been agreed upon, provide service to your spouse via a special process server.
Resolution of your petition. If the petition is agreed upon, the court will review it and issue a final decree. If the petition is contested, your spouse will have the opportunity to review the petition and request time to prepare his or her defense, or retain an attorney on the matter. If contested, the matter will be set for a hearing.
Jurisdiction and Grounds
Before filing for divorce in Illinois, it's important to understand the jurisdictional requirements and the grounds for divorce. You don't have to have been married in Illinois to file for divorce there, but either you or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state (or stationed there by the armed services) for a minimum 90 days immediately preceding the petition for dissolution of marriage. Jurisdiction is in the county where either spouse resides. Illinois is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that either spouse can file for divorce without having to provide a reason. This is the option taken by most uncontested divorces because it maintains the privacy of the couple. On the other hand, divorce can also be granted if evidence is entered into the public record that either spouse is sexually impotent, was still in a prior marriage at the time of your marriage, has committed adultery,has deserted the other spouse for at least a year, is habitually intoxicated for a period of at least two years, has been convicted of physical or mental cruelty or a felony, or is infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
Joint Divorce Packet
In Cook County (Chicago), marriages of fewer than eight years where the total income of both parties is less than $35,000 can be terminated quickly through a simplified dissolution of marriage packet of three documents (see Additional Resources). First, the three-page Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage identifies the parties and establishes the requirements for joint petition. If the parties meet these requirements, they can set forth the assets that will become the sole property of each spouse and the debts for which they will each be solely liable. Next they must sign the affidavit attesting that the property has been divided according to the joint petition. Finally, they submit a judgment form that the judge simply has to order to grant the divorce.
Most Illinois counties do not offer the simplified joint divorce option, and many marriages in the Chicago area would not qualify for it anyway. If you live in a county other than Cook, use the Additional Resources section to identify the circuit court in which you should file, and locate the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form on the circuit court's family division web page. A sample petition from the 19th Circuit is included in the Additional Resources section for reference--if you live in Cook County but do not qualify for the simplified joint divorce, use this form as a guide to draft your own petition for dissolution of marriage. In all counties, the form must be filed with the circuit court clerk, served on the other spouse by a process server or sheriff, along with a summons (available from the clerk). Since the divorce is uncontested, you and your spouse can draft your own Marriage Settlement Agreement, setting forth the division of property, debts, payment of alimony or child support and child custody. You can then jointly sign and file a Stipulation for Uncontested Hearing to notify the court that you are ready to expedite the divorce.
Visit a counselor in the Family Court office of your county courthouse. You do not need to set up an appointment for this visit, though an appointment may be necessary for future visits. The counselor will answer any questions you may have about filing for a divorce yourself and provide you with the necessary paperwork. One such piece of paperwork will be the official document announcing your divorce called a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage."
Fill out the paperwork. Most of the paperwork comes with specific instructions on what kind of information you'll need to provide. The paperwork is meant to validate your intentions of filing for a divorce; the kind of family situation involved; what kind of custody has been agreed to if there are children; and a division of any assets. You may need to list your assets on these forms. If you are confused about any of the paperwork, make an appointment with your counselor and she can assist you.
File your petition for dissolution of marriage with the local county clerk. This will set in motion the process of having the papers served to your spouse. You will not be allowed to give your spouse the notice of divorce yourself. A county sheriff must deliver these papers. There may be a fee to have these papers served and you must pay this fee. The fee is usually small, under $50. This fee is for the clerk's processing work as well as the sheriff's time in serving the papers.
Participate in a parenting class if you and your spouse have children. This is mandatory whether or not the spouse feels it is needed. Both spouses must take this class. This class may be a "group class" where other parents in the process of divorce will be attending. This class is meant to coach parents on the effects a divorce can have on their children; where to find help for these types of conflicts; and the kinds of things parents can do to make this transition easier for their children. This class will provide helpful material on how children can cope with divorce. Many attendees are encouraged to share their stories and counsel each other with their own experiences.
Attend your divorce hearing. Normally, there is a 90-day waiting period you must first observe that starts after your spouse has been served the papers. However, some counties allow Oregon residents to request the waiting period to be canceled in cases such as hardship, family emergencies or if one spouse poses a threat to the other spouse and/or children. Either way, you will be notified by the court of the time and date of the hearing. If there are no problems from either spouse, you have filled out all the paperwork and have taken the parenting class, if required, and everything is in order, the judge will sign your petition and grant your divorce.