In a contested divorce, like any other, one or both parties may initiate a divorce action. The only time that the state becomes an actual interested party in a divorce action is when either AFDC or Medical Assistance is provided by the state to a dependent. Or if an application has been completed to obtain legal services and filed with the Child Support Agency.

If an action is initiated by only one party, and there are minor children living in the house, a summons served on the responding party must include what is called a notification of availability of information, and must also include the contents of the parental interference with custody law. Also, upon request, the FCC should offer information in regards to the appropriate procedures involved, any primary issues of private family matters, and any additional information on community resources and/or counseling, and statutory provisions.contested_uncontested

The summons served on the responding party must also be accompanied by an included document which states the child support percentage standards which are established by the DCF, and it must list the child support standards, as well. In addition, the summons must include a copy of the county’s standard parenting plan form.

If the service is by way of publication, any information that needs to be included can also simply be referred to by the corresponding statute number. In the case of a joint petition, no service is required.

As far as the petition for divorce itself, there are several things that must be included in the petition. Any and all pleadings must always first be titled, “In re the marriage of your name and your spouse’s name.” It must include birthdates, and the residence of both, the husband and wife. The petitioning spouse should file a separate form containing both parties and children’s’ social security numbers.

It should also include the following:

  • The date and the place of marriage
  • All of the facts concerning any prior or pending actions for divorce or legal separation
  • Any names and birthdates of minor children involved; any other children that may have been born to the wife during the marriage
  • If the wife is currently pregnant
  • The UCCJEA jurisdictional information that is required by § 822.29

In addition to the aforementioned information to be included in the petition, you must also include information regarding and previous marriages. You must disclose the details as to how, when, and where the marriage was terminated. You must state that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and whether any agreements have been reached in regards to any support, legal custody and periods of physical placement of children, maintenance, and property division. If agreements have been reached, you must attach copies of this agreement. You must include any relief requests, and include your signature or the signature of your attorney. In the case that it is a joint petition, both parties, or both parties attorneys must sign it.

Automatically, both parties are forbidden from disposing any assets, removing children, harassment, intimidation, abuse, or in any way oppressing the personal liberty of the other party, or any minor child involved.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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