Divorce kits are a lower-cost alternative to ending a marriage than both parties hiring an attorney to represent them. This option should only be considered in certain circumstances, though.
When to Consider Divorce Kits
You may want to consider ordering a divorce kit from a reputable source in these circumstances:
- You are asking for a no-fault divorce
- You and your spouse have been able to agree on the terms of your divorce, including division of marital property, custody and child support
How the Process Works
When you buy one of the divorce kits available through an attorney, you and your spouse are agreeing to file a joint petition for divorce. These documents indicate that you have settled the issues between you and you are asking the Court to review and approve of the agreement as set out. The judge is also responsible for ensuring that there are grounds for divorce. In the case of a no-fault divorce, "Irreconcilable differences" is usually considered sufficient legal grounds.
Providing Personal Information
Just like when you hire an attorney to represent you in a divorce, you will be asked to provide some personal information, including:
- Husband's full name and address
- Wife's full name and address
- Date of birth for both parties
- County where the divorce papers will be filed
- Date and place where marriage took place
All states have a residency requirement that must be met before a divorce can be granted. At some point, you should be asked how long you and your spouse have lived in the state where you want to file for divorce. As long as one person meets the residency requirement, the divorce papers can be filed.
You may have agreed that one person will be paying spousal support (alimony) to the other. The amount of the support, who will be making the payments and when they are to begin and end need to be set out. You will also want to consider whether you want to add a provision that the amount of spousal support payable may be changed by the Court if circumstances change.
Child Custody and Support
Issues around child custody and support also need to be set out if you are going to use a divorce kit. You need to agree on:
- Whether one parent will have primary custody or if custody will be shared
- How much child support will be paid
- Which parent will pay for health insurance for the children
- How any other medical and dental expenses will be split between the parents
Division of Marital Property and Debts
List the marital property (assets you acquired after the marriage) that each person will keep after the divorce. A separate list should be made for debts accumulated during the marriage. Set out which person will be taking them on going forward.In the case of real estate that has been mortgaged, you need to decide which person will keep the property. If both people's names are on the mortgage, the person who will continue living in the house may need to refinance the property so that the other spouse is no longer listed on the loan. (A separate document transferring the other non-resident spouse's interest in the real property may need to be completed.)
Choosing a Service
Before you choose a divorce kit provider, take the time to find out something about the provider first. If the company or firm has a web site, this is a good source of information. You should be able to find out the following:
- Whether the divorce kit includes documents for your state
- Who will be preparing your documents
- What you need to do to file the documents with the Court
- How much the service will cost
If you and your spouse are able to settle the issues around your divorce amicably, ordering a divorce kit may be the right choice for you. In more complicated situations, you may need to hire a lawyer.