A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the written document that starts legal proceedings when a married person wishes to get a divorce. It is the form referred to when the expression "file for divorce" is used.
Filing for Divorce
When one person files for divorce, they are asking the Court to dissolve the marriage and deal with financial and other issues as well. Some examples include the following:
The issue of which party will be paying for attorney fees and court costs is also addressed in the petition.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage Document
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form can be completed by the person who is initiating the divorce (the Petitioner) or his attorney. If the document is being prepared to a legal representative, that person's name, as well the name and address of her firm appears on the top left-hand side of the page.
The Petition will be dealt with by the Superior Court of the state where the Petitioner is filing for divorce, and the address of the courthouse must be filled in. The Names of the Petitioner and the Respondent (the other spouse) are listed on the form.
Legal Remedy Sought
Since the same document is used to file for a legal separation, an annulment and a divorce, the Petitioner must indicate which legal remedy he is seeking.
The Petitioner must indicate that she has met the residency requirement for filing for divorce. In most jurisdictions, a person must have been living in the state for a set amount of time before he can file for divorce. The time period varies by state, and the court clerk's office or an attorney can provide this information, if necessary.
The Court will need to know the date of the marriage, as well as the date the couple separated. The form includes a portion where the Petitioner is asked to calculate the number of years and months the couple lived together as a married couple.
These dates are important, since they are used when determining how marital property will be divided. In a community property state, marital property is divided equally between the spouses. In a jurisdiction that uses equitable division, the marital property is divided in a way that is fair (which doesn't necessarily mean that each person receives the same amount).
The Petitioner is will need to indicate whether there are any minor children of the marriage on the form. Separate property is listed and attached to the document so that it is not included when determining how to divide the couple's assets.
Grounds for Divorce
The grounds for ending the marriage are an important piece of information listed on the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The grounds that are accepted in the jurisdiction where the Petitioner is filing are listed on the form. In all states, the grounds of "irreconcilable differences" are accepted by the Court.
The Petitioner will use this portion of the form to tell the Court what she wants in the divorce. This portion of the document is used to make requests for the following:
- Legal custody of minor children
- Child support
- Child visitation
- Attorney fees and court costs
- Spousal support
The Petitioner can also ask the Court to order that a test be performed to determine the paternity of any minor children born before the date of the marriage. If the Petitioner is a woman, she can also request that the Court restore her former name as a condition of the divorce.
Child support will be ordered by the Court if requested. Financial statements will need to be filed before the order is made.
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is the document that gets the process of getting divorced started. It must be filled out completely and filed with the court clerk's office. Once the document has been submitted, it needs to be served on the Respondent. Personal service is the preferred method for this part of the process of ending a marriage.