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Understanding the Forms Used in Divorce Court

Divorce is a complicated issue. In addition to the emotions and stress associated with divorce, you have to gather information that you will include in divorce court forms or divorce court documents. The court will rely on the information you supply to make its decisions about your divorce.

The divorce process begins when you pay the divorce court fees and file a document called a complaint. Some states call this a petition. The purpose of a complaint or petition is to officially ask the court to legally end your marriage.

The rules for filing a divorce complaint or a petition vary, depending on which state you live in. For instance, in Texas, you may file a petition for divorce if you have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county in which you are filing for at least 90 days. In all states except Arkansas and Oklahoma, you must have a permanent residence, or home, in the state if you want to file for divorce there.

In addition, you will use the petition or complaint document to show the divorce court why you should be awarded a divorce. Most states offer both no-fault and fault-based divorces. For a no-fault divorce, you simply need to explain, in writing, that you and your spouse can no longer get along within the marriage.

A fault-based divorce requires you to supply more information in writing-proof that your spouse has done something that the court considers a reason to award a fault-based divorce. Such reasons include adultery, meaning your spouse has cheated on you, or abandonment, meaning your spouse has left you.

Other Forms Used in Divorce Court

The more complicated your divorce, the more documents you'll have to provide for the divorce court. If the court has to divide the property from your marriage between you and your spouse, you will need to document the assets you gained and the debt that built up during your marriage.

If your divorce requires the payment of alimony, or spousal support, and/or child support, the court will require more information about your financial situation. You'll have to provide documents showing how much you've paid in taxes for the past several years, how much you earn and what assets and debts you have.

If you, your spouse or both of you will be seeking custody of your child or children, you'll have to give the divorce court documents that explain why the children should be with you.

Requesting Divorce Court Documents

Some of the most common divorce court forms requested are documents issued by the court itself. You'll need your official court divorce document anytime you are asked to prove your legally divorced status.


Because the divorce process-especially the documentation involved-can be overwhelming, your best bet is to hire a divorce lawyer. He or she can guide you through the steps and help you prepare all of the divorce court forms and documents correctly. Presenting the right information in the right way will help you get the outcome you want.