Step by Step Guide on How to File for a Divorce

At times, the only solution to marital crisis may be to take the exit. But filing for a divorce has never been an easy task. This is why this article will put you through with a step by step guide on how to file for a divorce.

If you want to legally end your marriage with a man, you must apply for a divorce order, divorce petition or matrimonial order as the case may be from a court.

The divorce process begins by completing the appropriate paperwork and filing it with the court.

Since state laws regulate divorce, Justia believes it is important to check for local requirements related to filing papers and serving.

But imagine a situation where your husband doesn’t want the divorce, don’t panic. You can simply apply one for yourself.

contested and uncontested divorce

when your husband doesn’t respond to the petition, it’s called an “Uncontested Divorce”. where he does and disagrees with what you’re asking for, is called a “Contested Divorce”.

but when both parties agree to the divorce, then according to Step to Justice you can apply for a joint application.

Now don’t forget there are various factors that hinder the process of a divorce.

For instance, if you have to work through major issues such as children and the division of properties, without involving lawyers.

However, these can be taken care of with the help of an attorney to protect your interests as well your spouse’s.

Why divorce?

I wouldn’t want to disregard the fact that you’re possibly at a crossroad here. Do you feel you have taken a wrong decision? Do you really want to go though this process?

Let me walk you through these questions below. Your answer to these three questions below should guide on what you really want.


1. Do you still have feelings for your partner?

Many people who say they want a divorce still have strong feelings for their partner. But due to an ongoing power struggle in the relationship there is  lack of intimacy and closeness.

Mediate tells the story of Celine who had been married for seven years to a man she loved, who she considered to be a real sweet, gentle guy.

However, she was very unhappy about their financial arrangement. She was the responsible one who paid all the expenses. While he seemed to be forever getting them further into debt.

She was very stressed and miserable and saw divorce as her only way out of the financial strain. But because of her feelings for him she was not able to support such a decision. Or even set a clear boundary, for fear of losing the relationship.

With the help of her therapist, Celine recognized that it is either she set a clear boundary and lose the relationship. Or accept that all her hassling was a waste of time.


2. Were you ever really married?

Most couples have never really had a relationship that works on the “us” ground. Just two people raising kids, sharing a home but each meeting their own needs. If you are in a relationship that works on “Do I want to do this or that”? rather than “Is this good for us?.

Then I doubt if you were ever really married. If this is the case, you may want to take a U-turn to talk things through with your partner.


3. Are you truly ready for divorce or are you just threatening?

An important question from Mediate. Most divorce is often threatened, especially in heated marital arguments for the following reasons;

  • Out of anger and frustration.
  • To gain power and control over the other person, to get them to see things your way.
  • To finally be taken seriously that you want real change.
  • As a wake up call that the marriage is faltering.

Truth is, divorce process, for most people worried about how to file for a divorce is not plug and play. There are several crossroads which will nearly make you sway. So if you’re not really determined that this is what you want actually, it’s better you don’t start the process at all.

How to file for a divorce

Reading to this point, I believe you are ready to proceed with the process. I must say, as a fellow woman who actually understands your situation, I commend your touch of courage.

 The stages and steps on how to file for a divorce.


Step 1: Serving the Divorce Petition

You have applied for a divorce petition as stated in the introductory part of this article. Now, the petition (or the divorce papers) must be served your spouse. This phase of the process is called “service of process.”

At this stage, you’re required to hand over the papers to your spouse yourself. If you cannot locate him, you can hire a professional process server to personally deliver the papers.

According to Legal Zoom, complete service of process starts the clock running on your state’s waiting period. It also sets automatic restraining orders on your spouses and helps establish the date of separation.

At this point, neither you nor your spouse is allowed to take any children out of your state, sell any property, borrow against property, or borrow or sell insurance held for the other spouse.


Step 2: Divorce Petition Response

Your spouse, known as the “respondent” can file a response to the petition saying he or she agrees.

Your spouse agreeing to the divorce with a response could make it more likely the case will proceed without a court hearing.

If your spouse doesn’t respond to the petition within 30 days, you can request that a default be entered by the court.

However, your spouse can also use the response to disagree with information presented in the petition.


Step 3: Final Steps of a Divorce

At this stage, you and your spouse will be required to disclose information regarding your assets, liabilities, income and expenses.

assuming your spouse agrees to the divorce papers and agree to the stated terms. Then there is only a little more of paperwork to file.

Immediately the court enters the judgment, the divorce is final. However, according to Legal Zone, the marriage is not formally dissolved. And neither you nor your spouse can remarry until the end of the state’s waiting period.

If there are issues that cannot be resolved such as emotional entanglements, property claims and even children custody, court hearings and maybe even a trial will be required.


Frequently asked questions about divorce

I believe you have learnt the process of how to file for a divorce. However, there are some frequently asked questions about filing divorce which I’ll love to take you through.


How long does the divorce process take?

Time varies. However, most states require you to be a resident for a minimum period of time, which can range from 3 to 12 months, before you can file for divorce there.

Now, after there’s been a ruling on your divorce. There is generally a waiting period between 0 to 6 months in most states before the divorce becomes final.


How much does divorce cost?

This also depends largely on whether the dissolution is contested or uncontested. Whether you hire a lawyer, how many issues must be settled, and how long the divorce process takes.

Handling the divorce process yourself actually may be risky, due to costly mistakes you’re prone to. However, you can hire a legal representation which according to Justia, can cost from $200-300 per hour on the average depending on your location. If you live in a counry like Nigeria, you should spend between N250,000 to N600,000.


Is there a way to get divorced without going to court?

One of the most common avenues, and one that is mandated by law in many states, is divorce mediation

However, Justia believe that if your divorce is uncontested and you and your spouse do not have children or significant assets. It may be possible to file all the necessary marriage dissolution documents and finalize your divorce without having to appear in court.


Will I have to pay alimony/spousal support?

Well, this is determined by a number of factors, including the length of marriage and the earning capacity of each spouse.


Can I get my maiden name back?

To change your name after the divorce process is completed and granted is typically a straightforward process. However, to change your child’s name after a divorce may be more complicated. Depending on the child’s relationship with your now estranged husband.

If you’re going though a divorce, do not go through it alone. And most especially, as we have already explored on our blog, take care of yourself mentally. You can refer to our 10 working tips on how to take care of yourself mentally here.



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