When you look up ‘how do you file for a divorce’ on the internet, usually you get a lot of complicated answers or unclear clarifications regarding what could actually be a quick and easy divorce.
Once you have established that you and your partner are unhappy in the marriage, the steps to getting a divorce become much easier if both members are cooperative and civil rather than constantly bickering and making the situation difficult for everyone, including themselves.
How To Apply For Divorce By Mutual Consent
Contrary to what most television serials and movies show, there is no deed executed on stamp paper upon execution of which, the couple gets an immediate divorce. A petition is required to be filed in the court of competent jurisdiction, which is usually where the unhappy marriage had taken place and was registered or where the couple last resided together.
- In most states in the US, the couple can jointly file for divorce after having completed at least one year since their marriage.
- Nearly all states require that a person reside in the state for a period of time, six months or a year, before filing for divorce in the state
Steps To File For A Divorce
How do you file for divorce? The easiest way to divorce your partner is to do everything with a cool mind, without any grudges. Here are a few tips I’m sharing from my own experience on how to apply for divorce in the most efficient way possible.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
- My ex and I were very clear that we didn’t intend to wash any dirty linen in public. We didn’t want the good memories to be tarnished by fighting over who got to keep what. We’d divvied up all the stuff we’d collected over the years before I moved out and settled all the finances as well.
- Don’t quibble over the small stuff. He was insistent that he wanted to keep the washing machine and the fridge. I bought myself a new fridge and hired a maid to wash my clothes till I get a washing machine. A new fridge is fairly affordable. It’s not worth the argument and your peace of mind in what is already a difficult time for both.
- I kept all the the jewelry, while he took possession of all the furniture in the house. In the case of a mutual divorce, I’d suggest that if anything is returned voluntarily, it be documented clearly for future reference with photographs.
Clean up the documentation and nominations
- Make a list of all the property held jointly, including real estate, bank accounts and lockers, investments, etc. and decide on who gets to keep what. I removed my partner’s name from the investments I’d made where I was the first holder, and he was the nominee or second holder. I had also held a locker jointly with ex MIL where all my jewelry was kept, and had her name removed from it.
- If there is anything you specifically want to keep because it holds some memories or is of sentimental significance to you, state that clearly, or you’re going to be regretting that you didn’t bring it up later.
My ex had stored all our photographs over the years in a hard drive, and I forgot to take copies of it. He’s been promising to make me the copies, but I am yet to get them. The steps to getting a divorce always includes respect for shared things. If you promise to do something and you don’t do it, there’s inevitable going to be conflict in the relationship.
Get proper legal support
- How to initiate a divorce in the most efficient way possible? I’m a lawyer myself, but decided to ask a friend of mine who handles matrimonial matters to file the petition for us. If you’re filing through mutual consent, usually you can file through the same lawyer and split the costs.
- Make sure that there are at least two different lawyers mentioned in the the authorization given to a lawyer by a client to represent them in court, since two different lawyers will be needed to identify both the parties in court. You’ll also need to sign two different authorizations for the court records, though you may be authorizing the same lawyers in both. These are small technical things, but you don’t want to be waiting in court twiddling your thumbs while your petition is held up on technical grounds.
The statements and signatures that are required
- The petition should clearly mention the terms of settlement – the finances, personal items, household items, furniture. Don’t leave any scope for any ambiguity to arise.
- There are usually two hearings – the first motion and the second motion. Depending on local practice, the petition maybe filed and taken up later in the same day (which is what happened in our case) or may need to be filed prior and then be listed a few days later.
- In the first motion, after the judge confirmed that we had read the petition and had no claims against each other, we each had to sign a statement stating our name, wedding date, date since we had been living separately and that we couldn’t live together because we were not compatible and were thus filing for a mutual divorce of our own free will. The statements were signed by us, and the signatures then identified by the respective lawyers. The same lawyer cannot identify the signatures of both the parties.
- We filed an application for a waiver of the cooling off period a couple of weeks later and after confirmation by the judge of our intentions, we were required to sign statements reiterating our decision of a divorce, which were again affirmed by both lawyers. After reading through the statements, the judge dictated a decree of divorce by mutual consent.
Make several copies of the decree; keep the family away
- I’d suggest that you instruct your lawyer to apply for several sets of the decree from the court since you’re going to have to present it in several places if you need to apply for a change of name after your divorce. In most cases, a true copy of the decree certified by a notary should suffice, but some departments/offices such as the passport office insist on keeping a copy of the original decree.
- My ex and I had to meet a few times to decide on things, finalise the petition, etc. We met at a neutral location, like a coffee shop which was midway for us. Neither of us invited the other one home. This was a conscious effort to ensure a quick and easy divorce.
- For our hearings as well, we went alone. Bringing any of our family along would only complicate issues and result in a power struggle by our respective family members, which was additional stress that was not needed. My mom offered to come along and wait outside, but I asked her to stay home.
- If you were planning to drive yourself, do yourself a favour and take a cab to court so that you’re not hassled over things like parking or hunting for change to pay the parking charges. Also, this is good for a quick escape as soon as you’re done with your hearing.
Related Reading: Whose advice should I take for my divorce?
Don’t make a scene in court
- Keep a handkerchief ready to mop up the tears. Though I knew that this would happen, after signing the statement in the second motion, I did end up shedding a few discreet tears at the finality of it.
- Please save the histrionics for when you’re outside the court. Loud crying in the court may result in the judge questioning if you really want the divorce, which could unnecessarily delay and complicate things.
Hopefully this clears a lot of doubts on how do you file for divorce without any hassles or problems. The steps to getting a divorce are in reality quite simple and organised, the only thing required is a cooperative behaviour from you as well as your soon-to-be ex spouse, after which moving on from a divorce is nothing but a breeze.
Hire a separate attorney from your spouse and be financially, as well as emotionally prepared.
The simplest way is through mutual consent divorce, which requires consent of both the husband and wife.