Filing for divorce can be a complicated process. However, knowing what you need to do can help make it seem less scary and stressful. The first step in divorce proceedings is to notify your partner that you are filing for divorce. While divorce may vary from state to state, you will always need to provide a letter of complaint or petition for divorce, which notifies your spouse that you are motioning for divorce.
Petition for Divorce
The most formal way to send your spouse a letter of motion for divorce is to have your local clerk begin the proceedings by drawing up a petition for divorce; your lawyer can also draft this petition. This formal document is then served to your spouse by a member of your local sheriff's office. The spouse that files the petition for divorce is also known as the petitioner, while the spouse receiving the document is known as the respondent. The respondent will typically have 30 days to respond to the petition.
Letter of Complaint
In a less formal manner, your lawyer can also draw up a letter of complaint, notifying your spouse that you are motioning for divorce. This letter, sent by your attorney, will explain that you are filing for the divorce. This motion is seen as less cold and provides a non-confrontational tone that expresses that you want fair and amicable divorce proceedings. As with a petition for divorce, the respondent will have 30 days to respond to a letter of complaint.
The information contained in a letter of complaint and petition for divorce includes details like the names and addresses of both the petitioner and respondent. It may also include details like the petitioner's and respondent's birthdates, as well as the name of any children between the couple. The most important information that either of these letters will contain is the formal reason for which the petitioner is choosing to file for divorce.
Receiving a Letter
If you are the receiving party of a petition for divorce or a letter of complaint, it is imperative that you respond to the letter as soon as possible. Failure to respond within the set 30-day time frame will result in your spouse receiving a divorce via default. This means that the settlement outlined in the original letter is followed because you did not contest or respond. While 30 days is the standard amount of time to respond to such a letter, each state may have different laws. Consult an attorney if you wish to contest anything that you find misleading or any misrepresentation that you feel your spouse noted in the letter.