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What You Should Know About Filing for Divorce

What should you know about filing for divorce? First of all, you have to explain to the court why you want to divorce your spouse. In other words, you have to have a reason for asking the court to legally end your marriage.

Divorces fall under two categories: fault and no-fault. To get a no-fault divorce, you simply have to tell the court that you and your spouse can no longer get along as a married couple. You do not need to prove that the problems in your marriage are your spouse's fault.

For a fault-based divorce, however, you have to prove that your spouse has done something that the court considers grounds, or a reason, for divorce. Examples of grounds for divorce are adultery, meaning your spouse has cheated on you, or abandonment, meaning your spouse has left you.

Most states offer both no-fault and fault-based divorces. Check with a divorce lawyer to find out what you will need to prove to get your divorce.

What Else You Should Know About Filing for Divorce?

The court will ask for lots of information-not just your reason for wanting the divorce-before it will allow the divorce to take place. You will have to provide many documents that prove you are who you say you are and that you and your spouse were legally married. You'll also need to give the court information about any children you and your spouse may have and the assets the two of you have, either shared or individually.

When it comes to showing the court what assets you and your spouse have, be prepared to provide documents including:

  • Paycheck records, including any overtime bonuses
  • Pension or retirement plans
  • Tax returns (federal, state and local) from at least the past three years
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank accounts
  • Statements or records of any debt still to be repaid

If either you or your spouse owns a business, you'll also have to show the court documents related to that business. These include papers showing taxes paid, the business' profits and losses, business contracts and partnership and shareholder agreements.


Perhaps the most important piece of advice anyone can give you before you file for divorce is to expect the divorce to be difficult. Even if you and your spouse have come to a friendly decision that this is best for both of you, the actual process of divorcing takes much time and effort.

Do whatever you can to make this process easier on yourself. This includes gathering whatever documents you think you may need before the divorce proceedings actually begin. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with a complete list of the documents the court will ask for as it considers the matter of your divorce.