If you have made up your mind to end your marriage and get a divorce, you need to understand how the divorce process works. Then it will be easier for you to start and complete the procedure early, and begin the process of mental and emotional recovery. Here is a brief outline of the main steps involved in a typical divorce process.

Filing the Petition

Every divorce begins with the filing of a divorce petition. If you are the person who is seeking divorce, you will file your petition at your state court in your county, by filling the relevant divorce petition forms and submitting them to the clerk. Your petition will provide pertinent information about your marriage, including details about your spouse, children, property, child custody and support.

Serving the Petition

Through a procedure called “service of process,” the petition must be served to your spouse. If your spouse agrees to the divorce, all that is required is a signing of an acknowledgement of receipt. However, if your spouse refuses, then you need to hire a professional to serve the papers. After the service of process is completed, there will be restrictions on movement of each party and children involved according to your state’s laws.

Responding to the Divorce Petition

Your spouse, also called the “respondent,” will have to file a response to signify an agreement to the divorce. With your spouse’s consent, you will not need a court hearing. However, if the response is not filed in 30 days, you may make a request for a court hearing. At this point, your spouse may also contest the terms in the divorce petition.

Completing the Divorce Process

To complete the process, you and your spouse need to declare your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. When there is mutual consent, the court can declare judgement on the petition. However, both parties need to wait till the end of the specified waiting period for the state where the petition is filed before the marriage is completely dissolved and the court judgement becomes final.


Those are the simple steps involved in a typical divorce case. Please note that there are slight variations in the procedure from state to state in the U.S. The procedure may also take a longer or shorter time depending on whether the spouses agree or disagree about the terms in the divorce petition.