The typical divorce process takes place through the court system. You can either hire a family law attorney or handle everything independently. When you have an uncontested divorce, completing and submitting the forms to file a divorce without the aid of attorneys can provide significant cost savings.
There is a lot of paperwork that you must file before starting a divorce or legal separation. Some divorces, especially those that involve children, require more paperwork.  There are two situations to consider when filing for divorce. You either file for divorce on your own or file jointly with your spouse.
Forms For When You Want to File for Divorce on Your Own
You can file for divorce on your own without your spouse. There are various reasons why you may want to do that. The most common reason is if you live in a “fault” state.
States where a divorce can be ruled the fault of one of the spouses require a spouse to file for divorce separately. This is true even if both spouses want to end their marriage.
For example, if you live in a fault state, and your spouse has cheated on you, lied about material facts that affect the marriage, or abused you, you may want to file for divorce. You will need to do that separately, regardless of whether your spouse also wants to end your marriage.
You may also want to file for divorce on your own if your spouse wants to keep your marriage together or says they will file but then refuses to.
You will need to file court divorce papers yourself to start the process. Below are the primary documents you’ll need to fill out and bring to your initial filing.
Family Court Cover Sheet
When turning in divorce papers to the family court, you’ll need to provide them with a cover sheet. Most of these sheets offer similar information, such as your name, address, and how the court can contact you.
To ensure you’re following proper guidelines, contact the court and ask them about their cover sheet.
Petition for Divorce
This is the actual petition whereby you request that the court grant you a divorce from your spouse. If you’re in a fault state, you’ll need to explain why your spouse is at fault.
For no-fault divorce states, you can claim “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce. It indicates you no longer want to be married. Make sure to fill out the petition without leaving anything blank.
Suppose you and your spouse can agree on settling your marital estate. In that case, it will generally be faster and easier for you to get a divorce.
If you’re filing by yourself, you can fill out the settlement information that you and your spouse have agreed to or fill out what you propose.
Your spouse may disagree, and if you and your spouse can’t agree, the court may decide for you.
You will need to alert your spouse that they’re involved in a lawsuit. In this case, it would be a divorce. The summons form can be delivered to your spouse via:
- USPS Certified Mail/Return Receipt
- Restricted Delivery
- Process Server
- Court Officer
- Local law enforcement authority
Having local law enforcement deliver the summons form is the least expensive option because it’s usually free. But sometimes, they will charge a fee, and they are the slowest out of all the other options.
The court may provide a form for you to use, or you may need to draft your summons form. Contact the court where you’re filing your paperwork or check your state’s divorce laws if you’re unsure.
Temporary Restraining Order
Suppose you have concerns that your spouse might attempt to tamper with marital property. In that case, you can file a temporary restraining order with your divorce papers.
This form blocks your spouse from selling, compromising, removing/diluting, or preventing access to the marital property during the divorce process.
For example, the court order can block your spouse from selling property that the court would split in a divorce. The court can then maintain control over the marital property and ensure assets are divided fairly.
Forms For When You Want to File for Divorce Together
You and your spouse can file jointly in states that allow for a no-fault divorce.
Fault states don’t allow for joint filing, but your spouse can sign a Waiver of Service if you two can come to an amicable agreement. This is like filing jointly and allows for an easier and quicker divorce process.
An uncontested divorce is generally the better option for couples who want to end their marriage.  The divorce isn’t fought over in court. Either because both parties agreed to the separation or a party didn’t respond to the petition in time.
When both parties agree, they’ll be on the same page about issues such as:
- Property division
- Financial responsibilities
- Child support
- Child custody
Mutual consent divorce often takes far less time to go through the court because the spouses have no arguments to draw out the divorce case. 
If you and your spouse agree on ending your marriage and you want to file for a joint divorce, you’ll need the following forms and the forms discussed above.
Joint Petition for Divorce
When you and your spouse agree to divorce, and you’re in a state that allows joint filing, you can fill out and sign a joint petition. It requires personal information from both of you and the details of what you’ve agreed to.
Decree of Divorce
This is the actual paperwork that will be completed by the court to show that you’re legally divorced. You can fill it out and file it with your other paperwork so it’s ready for the judge’s signature.
Confidential Information Sheet
As its name implies, this sheet is for all the confidential information on both spouses. It includes social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and other details. Filling it out will help reduce any filing problems and prevent delays in processing your divorce.
Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service and Summons
Since you and your spouse are jointly agreeing to divorce, you don’t have to have a summons delivered to them. Instead, your spouse can sign the paperwork that waives the service of a summons. They acknowledge that they’ve already agreed to the divorce and the details contained in the paperwork.
Other Forms You Might Need
Depending on the details of your marriage and the state where you’re filing for divorce, you may need some other forms. Two of the most common are the Parenting Plan and the Financial Affidavit.
The court needs to know that you and your spouse have a plan to co-parent your children. They also need to know how you’re handling custody and child support.
The parenting plan spells out this information and is required to complete your divorce court documents. It would help if you incorporated your parenting plan into your divorce decree so that it’s one final order.
You and your spouse likely have debts and assets together. Dividing them during a divorce can be less stressful when you have an affidavit that includes everything.
The court can sign off on it and make it a legal and binding part of your divorce decree by listing it all out. Check out our standard Financial Affidavit form for you to use.
Make sure you keep copies of all the paperwork for personal reference.
Whether you’re filing on your own or jointly with your spouse, using the proper forms needed to file for divorce will make legally ending your marriage faster, easier, and less stressful for everyone involved.