How to Fill Out a Divorce Petition

Updated April 17, 2017

Filling out divorce papers can be the hardest thing you ever have to do. Divorce can be difficult, depending on the situation, but that does not mean the paperwork has to be. You can fill out the paperwork and file it on your own without necessarily needing a lawyer.

You need to get the correct divorce forms for your state. You also need to get the correct forms for the kind of divorce you want. A joint divorce has different paperwork from a no-fault divorce. Check with the county clerks to make sure you have the forms you need.

Pick up the forms at the local court office or download the form from each state's online websites. Bring the paperwork home and arrange for a quiet place to fill it out. Read the form before you start, and gather all necessary information that you may need. Information you might need includes both parties' Social Security numbers, places of residence, and your financial information. In New Hampshire, the court requires a financial affidavit with the divorce petition. Check to be sure that you have this paperwork if it is required in your state.

Answer each question in the divorce paperwork completely. Leave a question blank only if the item does not pertain to your situation. Some courts prefer that you write "not applicable" instead of leaving the item blank. Check with your local court to see which it prefers. Make sure all headings are filled out on every page. This will help keep your paperwork together.

Look over the paperwork before you file it. Did you fill it out completely? Did you write in blue or black ink and make it legible? If you have hard-to-read handwriting, fill out the forms on the computer after downloading and print them out.

File the paperwork with your local court. You will have to pay the court fees unless you can prove you have low income. There is a waiver form to help prove your low income. The waiver form is different in each state.

Serve the paperwork to your spouse. This can be done by sending your spouse a certified letter, or a sheriff can serve the paperwork to your spouse. Both will cost some money, but they leave a paper trail proving to the court that your spouse knows about the divorce.


Take time filling out the paperwork. Make sure you understand all the questions. Ask the clerks what the questions mean if you do not understand them. Complete any extra paperwork the court clerk recommends that you complete.


Do not expect the court clerks to give you legal advice. The court does not accept documents if they are not written in blue or black ink or typed.

Things You'll Need

  • Divorce forms
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About the Author

Angela Reinholz is a full-time freelance writer. Reinholz started writing professionally in 2007, specializing in animals and social work with some branching off into legal matters. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern New Hampshire University and an associate degree in network administration from McIntosh College, located in Dover, N.H.