What's The Best Way To Get Divorce Papers?

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated April 15, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

Divorce Can Be Painful, Messy, And Confusing
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.

Excluding perhaps the divorce lawyers, no one likes the divorce process. It's messy, costly, and causes stress towards all parties. However, it's sometimes necessary. Sometimes, the marriage doesn't work, and the two of you are much better off divorcing. If you're about to take that route, you may have a lot of questions, such as how to get divorce papers in the first place. Luckily, here's a guide to getting them.

What Are Divorce Papers?

You may have heard the term "divorce papers," but may not know what they are. Simply put, they're the name for the petition you use to serve to the spouse you're divorcing. The papers have all the information about the marriage and may include the property distribution.

Getting Papers Online

The Internet has made it easier than ever to file for a divorce. You can go to the website of your state and look for the paperwork, and best of all, you can usually get it for free. Online divorce forms papers are common and accessible. 

With that said, the rules are different depending on your state or county, and the rules for online divorce papers may vary. You may need certain types of online divorce papers or go through a certain hoop if you want to carry on with your divorce, and that's never fun. If your divorce is uncontested and your children are minors, there may be more forms involved in your online divorce papers.

People don't like jumping through hoops and they prefer to get their online divorce papers right on the first try. Some people will use professionals to help them prepare their online divorce papers, but that can cost money.

You also need to have an uncontested divorce if you want to file online. That's when you and your spouse agree with most, if not all, of the divisions upon your divorce. If there are some issues you haven't agreed on, the two of you should reach a compromise. Hiring a divorce lawyer for this situation can be stressful and expensive.

Common divorce issues include:

  • Children. Everything from who takes care of the child and when, who can visit the child, who has to provide support, and so on.
  • Alimony. It's similar to child support but instead, support for the wife in general.
  • Who divides the property and debts.

If you can't agree on everything, and no compromise works, then you must hire a divorce attorney to help the two of you reach a deal. This is especially ideal if you're battling over a good amount of property, or you don't agree with taking care of the children. If there is no good agreement, you won't be able to file your divorce papers online.

You should also look into whether your state is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you can file for divorce without any proof of wrongdoing. If you do not live in a no-fault divorce state, then you should also look into proving who is at fault for the divorce and gather a paper trail. For example, if the divorce is happening due to an affair, you should gather evidence of that affair to present in front of a judge.

Non-Government Resources

What if your state doesn't have the proper documents you need? Some turn to online companies that claim to have free divorce papers. There are a lot of them, and it can be overwhelming. Many of them are unreliable; they say they're free, but they're not. They aren't updated with the current divorce laws. The papers also just may be wrong, such as saying you have to prove certain claims, such as adultery, when you don't have to prove them. Be very careful about your source when searching for free divorce papers or online divorce papers in general.

You can search for ratings of all the online divorce websites. A good divorce website will let you speak to an attorney to make sure you're filing the papers right, and make sure you're not missing any important info by going through the online divorce papers with you step by step. A good company will also have people review your forms before you submit, so you can be sure you won't have to refile in the case that something’s wrong. No one likes fees, and it's awful to have to pay more just because you overlooked something. If you get your online divorce papers right, an attorney can find the correct opportunities for fee waivers and make your divorce online as affordable and painless as possible. 

In the end, however, it's up to you to file the paperwork. A third party won't be able to do it, but instead, you have to, or you have to have an attorney.

By going to websites that are reliable, such as a government site or a highly rated third-party company, getting online divorce papers is easier than ever. But what about getting papers offline?

Getting Divorce Papers Offline

If you can't find the proper divorce papers online, you can get them in person. You can go to the county clerk's office, which may have papers you can retrieve. If they don't, there is a chance that they can mail the forms to you. The forms are much easier to fill out than they may be online, and they have forms for every part of the divorce process. You also have the added security of knowing that your source is legitimate, and you don’t need to worry about “free online divorce papers” scams online.

Examples Of Forms

When you get a divorce, you may need certain types of forms, which can include:

Petition: This is the main document, and it is the one that will ask the court to give you a divorce.

Summons: This is how your spouse is contacted when you file for a divorce. An officer should contact your spouse, and they can respond to you.

Financial: The financial affidavit is when the two of you describe your final situations. Make sure you cover your entire finances in full.

Notice: The notice of hearing is when your court will give you a date for your hearing.

Settlement Agreement: Once you and your spouse agree on everything when it comes to the divorce, you fill out this form.

Decree: The divorce decree is what the judge will be responsible for signing. Once it's signed, the divorce is official.

There are certain forms that require approval from a judge. For example, your divorce property deed probate will determine who will receive any properties or houses split during the divorce, but it is not official until it is approved and recognized by the court.

Make Copies Of Your Documents

Once you've filled out all your divorce papers, make sure you make a copy of them. You can copy them physically, or just upload them online. In case if the papers somehow get lost, you'll have them on you so you can refile if needed. This is a rare occurrence, but it always helps to keep important documents on you.

Filing Your Papers

Divorce Can Be Painful, Messy, And Confusing

Once you've filled out your petition, you can file them and begin the process. You may have to file a particular amount of copies, so make sure you've made enough. You'll need the original documents too. Talk to the clerk's office and see how many copies you may need.

Also, check the clerk's office for any other questions or concerns. For example, you may need to be a resident of the county or state for a certain amount of time. If you're not, you may not be able to file for a divorce. You can check the ease of a divorce online, too, but talking to someone in person may be the best way to get everything up to date, as the government websites are sometimes outdated.

Filing Fees

No one likes to pay fees, but they're a part of the divorce process. There is no set amount as to what the fees are. Your best bet is to look them up or ask. Have a couple extra hundred dollars on you so you can make sure you can pay for it.

But, what if you don't have the money? If you can prove your income, you could have the fee waived or get assistance. It may depend on the court or the situation, but you can always ask. The worst they can do is say no. The sad part of the divorce process is how expensive it is. Even without an attorney, you can pay a lot of money. However, by preparing yourself, you can make it through.

And that's the gist on how to obtain and file for your divorce papers. Obviously, you should contact your local clerk's office to see how it's done. This article is just a general way for you to get started. The process varies from county to county. It's always unfortunate that the rules cannot be the same everywhere, but that's a part of life.

With that said, keep cool and talk it out with your partner. See if the two of you can agree and if not, then you may need an attorney.

Seek Help!

Divorce is a messy process, and many times, it can be prevented. While some couples are never meant to be, some of the main reasons for a divorce are due to miscommunication. You don't communicate your financial situations very well. One spouse cannot express their emotions well, and because of that, it ends up blowing up in everyone's faces. There are some ways you can prevent divorce. Communicating more, bringing up a concern before it gets too much to control, and talking to people are just a few options.

The latter includes marriage counseling. There is no shame in bringing you and your spouse for a couple's counseling session. Sometimes, the two of you can work things out if you communicate more, and a counselor can help you do that. You can learn techniques that can make the two of you get along better, and you can rekindle that marriage and prevent the mess that is divorcing.

If the reason for your divorce is something that can be fixed, there is still time. Contact a therapist and see what they can do for your marriage.

Helpful resources for relationships & more in your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak With A Licensed Therapist
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
Get The Support You Need From One Of Our Therapists
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.