During the separation process with your former spouse, it’s important to have your matters organized as early as possible to reduce the stress of dealing with both complex legal processes and emotional distress. There are several ways to ensure you’ve assembled, filled out and signed your divorce documents in due time, while minimizing the hassle of dealing with all the paperwork yourself.
Find Out What Forms You Need to File and Start Your Divorce Procedure
The list of required separation documents varies from state to state. The most common are the petition for dissolution or the divorce petition itself and summons. For example, the state of New York requires individuals to file forms UD-1 and UD-1a or a form UD-2; in California they are FL-100 and FL-110; in Illinois they are called 49A and 3254. You can check what forms you will need on the website of your state court. All of them require detailed information regarding spouses, residences, grounds for divorce, property, custody and support issues.
The form of separation must be filed with a county clerk, who assigns your case an Index Number. An Index Number costs $210. If you don’t have the money to pay you can fill out a Special Waiver. There’s no official form for the waiver request; every judge may have different requirements, which you will have to find out for yourself. Here, you will find a sample of this Unique Waiver in order for you to have an idea of what information you will have to provide.
Save Time by Choosing a Professional Divorce Attorney
A divorce procedure demands a great deal of paperwork and legal knowledge which is why professional assistance is important for expediting the process. The fee may vary from $100 to $1000 per hour depending on the location, experience and education of the lawyer. Here are several points you must pay attention to when looking for a competent lawyer:
- Choose a lawyer according to your needs. In a divorce case, you will need a family law specialist that is qualified for resolving specific issues.
- Ask for advice from your friends, relatives or clients who may have already been through a similar experience.
- Be careful of any lawyer that charges a fee that is too high or too low. There’s no guarantee that you’ll save money using a low-priced attorney and an expensive attorney may not be worth the cost.
- Make sure you’ve chosen a lawyer who has enough time to take the case so you’ll be able to make contact whenever necessary.
Serve a Petition to Your Ex-Spouse Personally or Electronically
The next step is serving the petition, which means that a copy of the divorce form has to be signed by your spouse. Since the form has to be served by someone other than yourself and over 18, the responsibility for serving the petition should fall to your lawyer or a court’s sheriff.
The Petition may be served on paper or by e-mail. Digital document services make it easy to fill out, electronically sign and email a copy of the divorce petition from any internet connected device. Your ex-spouse may sign a petition the same way. However, the second party may refuse to sign the documents. In this case, the divorce becomes contested and requires additional advice from your lawyer
Settle Ex-Spousal Disputes with a Settlement Agreement
Before the first hearing, former couples have an opportunity to settle their disagreements without going to court. In this case an attorney will draft a Settlement Agreement. This is a legally-binding document that contains all the agreements on property, payments, custody, or support.
When a couple has minor children, both parents are required to sign a parenting plan, where they indicate the type of custody each will have as well as writing out a detailed visiting schedule.
Sign the settlement agreement, parental plan, divorce petition, collect signatures from your ex-spouse and keep track of signed files at all stages from the comfort of your home.
Online document management services such as PDFfiller make it fast and easy to fill out all required separation documents from any internet connected device.
*Before submitting any files electronically, please, confirm with a lawyer or the court, which documents are allowed to be filed online.