What is a joint petition for divorce?

A joint petition for divorce is a procedure where both parties file for divorce together instead of doing it separately. This process saves divorcees time by choosing to come to an agreement together before going to court. Both parties also must agree to the full terms of divorce before filing.

What is a Joint Petition for Divorce?

A joint petition for divorce allows both spouses to file for divorce together.

Depending on the state you live in, if two people want to get a divorce and it is uncontested or no-fault, they have the option to file a joint petition for dissolution of marriage. The couple proceeds with no major conflicts over the terms of the divorce.

In a contested divorce the petitioner (plaintiff) petitions the court for a divorce and respondent (defendant) has to respond. When the petition is jointly filed, the spouses are called Co-Petitioners. The husband and wife petition the court together with paperwork that is signed by both parties. The divorce proceeds with both parties in agreement that no one is at fault.

No-Fault Divorce

Currently most states permit no-fault divorces. A divorce can be considered no-fault if the couple is getting divorced because of:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Irretrievable breakdown or
  • Physical separation

No-fault divorces can easily be considered uncontested. If two people wish to end their marriage because their relationship has simply broken down, divorce can be simple and relatively painless.

Uncontested Divorce

Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested depends on how the couple deals with the terms of the divorce. In an uncontested divorce both parties agree on all major issues concerning the divorce. These issues can include:

  • Child custody and visitation arrangements
  • Child support, health and dental insurance coverage
  • Division of real estate and personal property
  • Division of assets and debts
  • Alimony
  • Any other issues related to the marriage

An uncontested divorce can save time and money for both parties. The couple can avoid paying for expenses associated with serving the divorce papers. Filing a joint petition can help the couple avoid any unnecessary stress associated with a drawn out trial.

Simplified Divorce

Depending on the state that you live in,you may be eligible for an even easier divorce if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have no minor children
  • You have limited assets and debt
  • You’re in a short-term marriage.

You may be able to file a joint petition for a summary dissolution at a more affordable cost than a regular joint petition. Since there are a limited number of legal issues to deal with, this type of marriage can be expedited through the process.

Joint Petition in 50/50 States

If you live in a community property (50/50) state for divorce, you may required to split any jointly owned property, even if you have reached an agreement in your joint petition. Any joint accounts or co-mingled funds may be divided equally between the two parties. The court may also set certain limitations on child support and custody.

Joint Petitions and Waiver of Rights

Since a couple signs and submits a joint petition together they waive their right to service of process. The right to service of process is when the petitioner provides his/her spouse with a copy of the petition. They are filing together so neither side can claim to be unaware of the divorce proceedings. You’re bound to the terms of the settlement agreement that is approved by the court.

Outline of the Process

Here is a simplified breakdown of the process of getting an uncontested divorce.

  • To set the action in motion, one spouse must file the initial paperwork and have it served on the other spouse
  • The couple must negotiate a marital settlement agreement that defines and describes the terms and conditions of
    • Property distribution, and if applicable
    • Spousal and child support and
    • Custody and visitation
  • They must complete and file the final papers, including the Marital Settlement Agreement, with the court.

Time Requirements

Depending on the state that you live in there is a minimum amount of time that you must be a resident before you can file for a divorce, even if you file a joint petition.

Some states require the spouses involved to live apart for a minimum amount of time before they are able to file for a divorce.

Additionally, some states have a mandatory “cooling off” period after a couple files for divorce. The “cooling off” period is a minimum amount of time the must pass before the court will hear a divorce case. The purpose is to allow the couple to consider reconciling or let the couple adjust to their new situation.

Filing jointly can save a lot of stress, time, and money. Couples who are in agreement on all of the issues in their divorce should consider taking this route.

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