Divorce Papers

To divorce you have to file Divorce Papers. What papers are needed for a divorce in the USA? What the process is you have to follow? What if you cannot find your spouse? What if your spouse does not collaborate?.

The papers you need to file for a divorce are called the Divorce Petition

Each state has it's own specific requirements for the documents that need to be filed. If you want to get the divorce papers for your state, please go to:

Divorce Kits


Divorce Forms

But before going to that level of detail, here is the general picture.

Your State

In principle, you have to file for divorce in the state where you live. It does not matter if you are married somewhere else. You have to file your divorce papers at the county clerck in your state.

Your Partner lives somewhere else

It is possible that your partner has moved to another state before you officially file for divorce. Or he or she has moved to a different country. In these cases, you still file your divorce papers with the county clerck in your state.


Before filling in the papers, you should agree on the conditions with your ex partner. Especially it there are subjects on which both of you disagree, those subjects should be cleared before filling in and sending the divorce petition for signing. If your partner does not agree, he or she will probably refuse to sign.

In principle, you - the petitioner - fill in the papers and you send them to your future ex partner. The divorce papers need to be signed in front of a public notary. You file the signed divorce papers at the county clerck's office.

The most common way to send the divorce papers to you partner is by (RMRRR) Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. Other ways are to hire the sherif, to ask a person above 18 which is not one of your children, to hire a professional process server.

You Cannot Find your Spouse

In some cases, your spouse has disappeared without informing you about her of his new address. Now things start to get more difficult.

If you find yourself in such a situation, consider hiring one of the divorce lawyers specialised in these kind of situations.

When presenting your case to the judge, you must convince him that you did everything possible to find your spouse with no avail. You start your search in a systematic way and you keep a very detailed log of everything you do. To give you an idea about how to search, we give you a list to start with:

  • Contact his employer
  • Contact her or his family
  • Contact the clubs where she of he is a member
  • Contact his friends
  • Search on the internet (Facebook, LinkedIn, ...
  • Try to contact him by email
  • Look in telephone directories of the places where you think your spouse could be living
  • If he or she has been in the army, Contact the U.S. military.
  • Hire a detective

There are more than a few ways to find out where your spouse could reside.

Once you did do all of that to find your spouse, and you convinced the judge, the judge might order you to publish a notice in a local newspaper. The publication needs to be repeated a few times. Usually 4 to 6 with an interval of a week.

Then make a sworn statement that you have seriously tried to find your spouse but that you did not find her or him and file it at the court.

Get an prove from the newspaper where you publiced your notice. File this affidavit of publication at the court.

Your Spouse Does Not Cooperate

If the divorce papers are undeliverable or if your partner is refusing to collaborate, put an announcement in a local paper where your partner resides. Keep a detailed log of what happened, including mentioning, the persons that were present in the event, places and times. Get yourself a copy of the announcement. You have to present it to the court during the hearing.

The Petition

On the Petition there is a Petioner. That is the person who is filing the divorce papers. The Respondent is the other partner. Usually, the Respondent has to respond within 30 days.

The Petition must include the following documents:

Repayment of Debts

If there are debts within the marriage, the amounts, the creditors and who and when the debts will be repayed must be clearly stated.

Division of Assets and Property

First of all, it is important to know what is in your marriage contract: what belongs to who.

Your savings, bank accounts, credit cards and equities need to be divided

Your cars, house, furniture, mobile home, boat, computers, bicycles, books and whatever other stuff you have must be divided. It is good practice to create a list of all the belongings, state the purchase price and an estimation of the current market value. You can then negotiate who gets what and you can stick a price to it.

You could include an amount for the costs of moving goods from the current location to your new address or to the new address of your partner, depending on what happens with your current housing.


Depending on your financial situation and on the financial situation of your partner, alimony should be applied. The rules for determining alimony differ from state to state. If your partner has been dependent from your income, he or she could be granted a part of your income for a usually limited period of time.

Child Support

Child support is the money that need to be contributed for the education and maintenance of the children. It is different from alimony. In the case of single / sole custody, the non-custodian parent can be obliged to pay a monthly amount for child support. Child support payments are enforceable by law. For more details, visit Child Support.

Child Custody

Child custody is about the decision making authority for the most important aspects of a child's live: education, health care, maintenance, religion and place of living. For more details, visit Child Custody.

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