Do both parties have to sign the divorce papers?

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have decided to file for divorce, your partner doesn't have to be present for the initial filing. However, she will be required to sign the papers at some point which can either be willingly or court-ordered.


The petitioner is the person that files the original divorce papers. This can be done at your local courthouse. Your spouse is not required to be present for you to start divorce proceedings.


The petitioner will be required to complete a series of forms and return them to the courthouse with multiple copies of each document. Some documents such as those regarding health insurance and children under the age of 18 will need to be notarised.

After the documents are returned, you will be assigned a case number and will be asked to pay court fees. Court fees vary by state and county.


The respondent is the party who was not present for the divorce filing. The respondent will receive copies of the divorce papers in the mail. If he refuses to sign, the petitioner will have to make an appointment with a process server or sheriffs deputy to serve the papers in person.

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About the Author

Crystal Lassen hails from Kansas City, Mo. and has been a book critic since 2008. Her reviews have appeared on the Publisher's Weekly website and are largely concerned with current events. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from The University of Kansas.