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Legal Requirements for Divorce

December 31, 2016 Blog

When a spouse decides that differences are too great to continue the marriage, a divorce often becomes inevitable. While the decision may seem the most difficult part, legal requirements can be equally as tough, but laws must be adhered to for a divorce to become final.

Order of the process

To begin with, one spouse must fill out a written petition for the divorce and file in the state court in the county where one of them reside. The petition contains pertinent information that will be applied.

After the petition is filed, it will then need to be served to the other. If the other spouse agrees, they simply sign. If they don’t agree or can’t be found, the filing spouse can hire a professional to serve them. Once the papers are received, the state’s time begins on the waiting period. Each state has a required waiting period before finalization. This is to allow for a reconciliation if possible.

When the papers are served, an automatic restraining order also goes into effect for both spouses. They aren’t allowed to take their children out of the state, sell any property or sell insurance. Both parties must provide information on any assets, income and expenses that they have.

Uncontested vs. contested divorce

If a divorce is uncontested, this means that both parties agree to the divorce, and there will be no arguing or issues concerning property, children or assets. In a contested divorce, one or both parties have an issue with one or more of these things, and the judge must hear both sides to determine how the divorce will be settled. Even if the divorce is uncontested, both spouses must still wait for the state’s allotted waiting period before they are allowed to remarry another person.

Explanation of legal requirements

Certain legal requirements are needed to file for a divorce in most states. First, residency must be established. The filing spouse must reside in the state and county for usually about six months. As stated above, there is also a required waiting period from the beginning to finalization of a divorce. As with residency requirements, the waiting period is usually six months, however, it can be as small as none or as long as a year.

Two legal grounds must be established to obtain a divorce. One is irreconcilable differences which means there are differences that cannot be resolved. The other legal ground is separation. The couple must be living apart. Action for a divorce must also be filed in the proper court. Generally, this would be the court in the county where either has resided for at least three to six months prior to filing for the divorce.

Completing divorce forms

There are many forms that will need to be competed to file for divorce. If the spouse can’t be located, the court will have to approve to publish notice of attempt to divorce in the local paper. If the other spouse doesn’t respond to the notice, the filing spouse can proceed to finalize the divorce by default.

Fault or no-fault divorces

All states observe the “no-fault” divorce. This means that if either or both parties decide to divorce, they do not have to have reasons why. It is implied that the parties have irreconcilable differences that cannot be resolved, and a divorce is the only solution. Some states will allow a fault divorce in certain cases such as if there is abuse or imprisonment.


A divorce can be a long, harrowing process and can cause stress levels to rise considerably. The paperwork can be complicated for an inexperienced individual. If you find yourself in the process of divorce, we have the legal expertise to guide you in the right direction and get you what you deserve.



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