Complete guide to divorce papers (and where to get them)

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As emotionally grueling as divorce can be as it is, a divorce is really just a legal procedure. Legal filings almost always require paperwork, and divorce is no difference.

While a traditional divorce involving two or more attorneys can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and months or years of battle, most couples with relatively simple affairs and a custody agreement for any shared children should be able to end their marriage quickly and with few costs — but you still can’t avoid dealing with divorce papers.

An online divorce service is an affordable way to get all the papers you need, quickly. 3 Step Divorce provides all the legal documents you need for your state, as well as detailed instructions for how to file—with a 100% guarantee your local court will accept them.

3StepDivorce has:

  • A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • 100% guarantee papers will be accepted by your local court
  • 24/7 customer support by phone or chat
  • $50 cash rebate if you filed within one business day

Get started with 3StepDivorce now for just $84 >>

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This post will address:

Where can I get divorce papers?

If you have hired an attorney or mediator to process your divorce, they will provide divorce papers for you — all while charging you a high hourly rate.

You can get divorce papers — often for free — for yourself, by contacting your local courts. Many states provide online divorce papers for free or for a low price online.

Whether you print print free divorce papers from your the local court house’s online website, your attorney emails them to you, and you print at home, or an online divorce services provides them, these are typically going to be the same, official divorce documents that you would get in-person from your local court house. There should be no problem with the state recognizing your divorce papers if you print free divorce papers you get online, as long as if they are from a reputable source.

How to file for divorce 101 — the basics

What paperwork do I need for divorce? What divorce papers look like

Each state has its own terminology for the different papers required to file and complete the divorce, but these are typically involved:

  • Petition for dissolution of marriage — This kicks off the divorce, listing all assets and children involved in the proceedings, and is generally served by one party to the other, with a request for response.
  • Summons — These papers inform each party that the divorce has been initiated, and tells each that they should not change insurance polices or joint financial accounts, or sell any property.
  • Custody agreement, or divorce settlement — Hopefully, you and your spouse will not go to court to settle your divorce, but instead agree to terms of the split either with attorneys or between the two of you. These terms are documented in a divorce settlement, and filed with your divorce papers.
  • Divorce decree — This is the final, signed and sealed divorce document.

Where can I get divorce papers online?

Or, if you use one of the quality online divorce platforms, you will get all your divorce papers include in their program. For example, 3 Step Divorce provides all the legal documents you need for your state, as well as detailed instructions for how to file—with a 100% guarantee your local court will accept them.

AlabamaAlaska
ArizonaArkansas
CaliforniaColorado
ConnecticutDelaware
District of ColumbiaFlorida
GeorgiaHawaii
IdahoIllinois
IndianaIowa
KansasKentucky
LouisianaMaine
MarylandMassachusetts
MichiganMinnesota
MississippiMissouri
MontanaNebraska
NevadaNew Hampshire
New JerseyNew Mexico
New YorkNorth Carolina
North DakotaOhio
OklahomaOregon
PennsylvaniaRhode Island
South CarolinaSouth Dakota
TennesseeTexas
UtahVermont
VirginiaWashington
West VirginiaWisconsin
Wyoming

3StepDivorce is fast and easy — this is how long it takes to finalize your online divorce papers:

3 step divorce free

How can I get divorce papers for free?

Again, your local court may provide divorce papers, separation agreements, child custody and other related family court papers free of charge — even online.

Otherwise, they will be included with an online, DIY divorce program (which is not free, but low-cost compared with paying attorneys).

How can I get divorce papers for free? Can I print my own divorce papers?

Many states increasingly allow you to download and file your own divorce papers online for free. Check with your local clerk, then check out Rocket Lawyer’s divorce worksheet, which is 100% free.

What to do if you can’t afford a divorce? How can I get free divorce papers online?

If you and your spouse are in agreement about how to share time and expenses of your kids, divide assets, property and debt, congratulations! You qualify for a no-fault divorce and can get this over with sooner than later.

First, understand which court you need to file in. Some states divorce is filed in civil court, family court or divorce court.

Some states have residency requirements for divorce, such as mandating that you live in a state a minimum of six months before you can file in that state.

Educate yourself about filing fees in your state. Even if you can download the divorce papers and file for divorce for free online, you will likely have to pay filing fees, which can range from $200 to $400, depending on where you live.

If the two of you agree to sit down and sort it out, then using papers from your local courts and filing yourself may be the answer. However, it is easy to make errors that hold up the process, so consider paying a few hundred dollars from an online divorce paper company, as well as hiring a local attorney or mediator to look over your divorce papers to make sure that you addressed all important issues, and there are no errors that will delay your divorce being finalized.

What to consider if you are thinking about divorce — but are not sure

What goes in divorce papers?

Every state is different, so check with your local courts, or ask a local attorney. But in general, you will need to collect these documents to finalize your divorce:

  • Dissolution of marriage document. Your state will have its own version of this paper.
  • Settlement agreement to document how all assets and debts will be divided.
  • Custody and child support agreements if you have children, as well as birth certificates for all your kids.
  • Marriage licensed / information about when and where you married.
  • Financial documents, including recent pay stubs, tax returns, deeds and mortgages, debts,

Which divorce papers need to be notarized?

Typically, you will need to get these divorce papers notarized:

  • Initial divorce filing
  • Financial documents
  • Final divorce settlement agreement

How much does it cost to file papers for a divorce?

Each state has its own procedures and fees for filing for divorce. They range from $50 in Mississippi, to up to $450 in California. Some states charge more for different required divorce paperwork, such as custody agreements.

To learn about how to get and file divorce papers in your state, call the courthouse near you, or most districts have the information on a courthouse website.
Where to file divorce papers

You or your attorney will file the signed and notarized divorce paperwork with your local courts, typically at the court house.

How are divorce papers served?

If you and your divorce have an uncontested divorce, you will sit down together or with a mediator and work out the details of the separation and file together.

However, you may choose to file for divorce in your local courthouse and serve your spouse papers. Each state has different requirements for proof of service, so check with a local clerk, but you may document that your soon-to-be ex was indeed served divorce papers by:

  • Certified mail
  • Process server — this can be a professional service, a local law enforcement office (police or sheriff) or you can ask a friend. Any process server will have to sign and have notarized an affidavit that they served the other party.
  • By publication. Take out a classified ad in your local newspaper — this is cold, but may be useful if you do not know where your spouse lives.

Online divorce papers: A review of My Divorce Papers

There are many, many online divorce papers service providers on the Internet. Here is our roundup of the best DIY online divorce companies.

Our #1 recommendation is 3 Step Divorce. Read our 3 Step Divorce review, or get started for as little as $84 with 3 Step Divorce now >>

My Divorce Papers is one of those many sites that helps couples easily file for divorce online. My Divorce Papers offers exactly what it sounds like: complete divorce forms and attorney-approved programs and services.

Since 2002, they have served over 1.2 million people with their fast, easy divorce options. My Divorce Papers promises a “fast online divorce in under an hour.”

Unfortunately, MyDivorcePapers.com’s parent company, Divorce Place, has a Better Business Bureau rating of F.

Our recommendation is to pay $299 for 3StepDivorce. 3Step’s fee includes all the papers required in to file for divorce in your state, and detailed instructions for doing so yourself.

3StepDivorce features:

  • Better Business Bureau rating of A+
  • 100% money-back guarantee your papers will be accepted by the court
  • Free chat support 24/7 by phone or chat
  • $50 cash rebate if you file within 1 business day
BBB ratingLive attorney consultations?Price
3 Step DivorceA+No$299 — plus a $50 cash rebate if you file the same day you create an account. Get started for $84.
CompleteCaseANo$299
Rocket LawyerA+Members may ask questions, plus get free 30-min phone consultations$39/ month after free 7-day trial, or per-document fee of $39

How to file for divorce online with MyDivorcePapers

The My Divorce Papers sign-up process is simple.

  1. It’s 100% free to register with My Divorce Papers and create an account.
  2. Select your state of residence and create an account.
  3. You’ll specify whether you need to file paperwork for a divorce, an annulment, or a legal separation.
  4. Fill out other basic questions, such as whether or not you know the location of your spouse, and whether you and your spouse are in agreement on the division of your property, assets, and any child-related matters, like custody and support.
  5. Even if you and your spouse are at odds about these divorce-related issues, you’ll still qualify for the My Divorce Papers online divorce services.
  6. Next, enter information about your divorce, including which partner is filing for the divorce, whether your credit was affected as a result of the marriage, your current living arrangements, and how soon you’re looking to file.
  7. You’ll then be asked a couple of questions related to any children involved and any current pregnancies.
  8. On the next screen, you’ll answer questions about shared and individual assets, debts, and properties, income, and employment.

Other details My Divorce Papers will ask about include military history, whether you or your spouse are already represented by an attorney if you’ve already filed for divorce in court, and how you plan to finance the divorce.

The answers you give are plugged right into your custom set of state-specific, legally binding forms. You can change your answers at any time before filing the divorce papers.

There’s no obligation to pay for anything until you’re almost finished with the process and ready to file.

For individuals with large estates or sizeable assets, complex finances, or major issues with reaching a negotiation, My Divorce Papers will provide a free consultation with a divorce lawyer right in your area.

All of the online divorce forms are filled out in real time, so once you’re finished, they’re ready for instant filing and delivery to your local courthouse.

They even explain in great detail how you should serve the papers to your spouse, which is one of the more delicate elements of the whole process.

Their guidance here is key to a successful online divorce, and they handle it wonderfully.

What does a DIY divorce online cost with My Divorce Papers?

My Divorce Papers costs $159 for complete divorce forms preparation.

My Divorce Papers will give you a 100% refund if their divorce forms are not accepted by your local court. Keep in mind that the low price comes at a price! This includes an F rating with the Better Business Bureau, which has not accredited the company’s parent company, Divorce Place Inc.

Other online divorce services to consider are  RocketLawyer and 3 Step Divorce.

RocketLawyer allows you to buy legal documents like a divorce settlement or separation agreement for a flat fee of $49 per document, and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Learn more about RocketLawyer >>

3StepDivorce provides all the divorce documents you need in your state, along with filing instructions, for a flat fee of $299, and has an A+ BBB rating. Check out 3StepDivorce now >>

BBB ratingWhat you getLive attorney consultations?Price
My Divorce PapersFAll filing papers + filing instructions in your stateNo$159
3StepDivorceA+All filing papers + filing instructions in your stateNo$299 + $50 rebate
Rocket LawyerA+One-off documents and attorney consults Members may ask questions, plus get free 30-min phone consultations$39/ month after free 7-day trial, or per-document fee of $39

Related: How to get through divorce without going bankrupt

Does MyDivorcePapers.com work in every state?

Since every state’s divorce guidelines are different, you must choose the state(s) where you and your partner live.

This would normally involve some digging and research on your part in order to figure out the specific state regulations (and even more so if you and your partner live in separate states!).

Luckily, My Divorce Papers has an intuitive and well-documented set of resources, sans all the confusing legalese, to help you get everything squared away in a matter of minutes.

Every state’s divorce laws are different.

For example, to get a New York online divorce you must live in the state for one year prior to filing for a divorce.

New York divorce law only offers fault divorces.

They also use an equal distribution of property and do not require an official parenting plan to be on file with the divorce. Learn more about how to co-parent with even the most toxic ex in this post.

What does My Divorce Papers include?

Every couple gets a dedicated account manager, or “case manager,” who walks you through every step of the process.

Your case manager will become familiar with your circumstances, and you’ll have access to them via phone or email any time you need help.

Other elements of divorce that can be quite tricky to navigate when filing for divorce involve kids: child custody and custody payments are big issues in many divorces.

My Divorce Papers helps families set up a Parenting Plan, which is a custody plan that is filed with a marital separation agreement or final divorce decree.

My Divorce Papers helps parents negotiate a Parenting Plan, whether the state requires one or not. Learn more about successfully co-parenting after divorce, and why it is so important for children.

The divorce services My Divorce Papers offer also include a Child Custody Calculator AND Alimony Calculator for establishing reasonable and fair payments from one spouse to the other.

This can be a real hang-up in the traditional divorce court process, but your My Divorce Papers dedicated Case Manager is trained to help you come to an agreement quickly and peacefully.

My Divorce Papers customers get access to a completely free library of divorce resources.

Their team has created an extensive video archive to help explain issues like taxes, estate planning, spousal support, child custody, and how to serve your spouse with divorce papers.

Get your maiden name back with My Divorce Papers’ free name change service for wives!

Related: Should you change your name after divorce?

That’s one less thing to figure out – and each thing taken off your plate will be a huge relief at a time like this.

Pros and cons of MyDivorcePapers.com

Pros

  • It’s quick. My Divorce Papers boasts that their document-filing process can be completed in under an hour! Plus, no waiting on an attorney or the slow, bureaucratic courthouse process.
  • All states are covered, and My Divorce Papers provides state-specific filing instructions, requirements, explanations, and forms.
  • My Divorce Papers costs less than the average divorce by speeding up the process and eliminating pricey legal fees. In a $30 billion divorce industry, getting completely prepared divorce forms online for $159 is a great deal.
  • My Divorce Papers guarantees that your forms will be accepted by the court or you get your money back.

Cons

  • My Divorce Papers has a BBB rating of F, and is not accredited
  • Filing for divorce online isn’t always as quick as the company promotes. It can depend on factors like where you live, whether your state has a waiting period, whether you know where your spouse is (to serve them the papers), whether it’s a fault-based or no-fault divorce, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, if you have big assets, like businesses, that take longer to evaluate, and if there are custody issues to dispute.

3 Step Divorce: Alternative to My Divorce Papers

Skip the poor customer service of My Divorce Papers and go with 3 Step Divorce.

How to file for divorce online yourself using 3 Step Divorce

Increasingly, online services like those listed below, as well as the huge trove of quality online information and technology improvements in the courts means that in many cases, couples can quickly move through a divorce:

  1. Agree on terms of the divorce.
  2. Create legal documents online.
  3. Sign and have notarized the legal divorce papers.
  4. Either file the papers themselves, hire a local attorney to file the divorce papers in the courts, or some of the online, DIY divorce products include filing in their fee.

Where to find a notary to get your divorce papers notarized

Increasingly, local and state courts were allowing for electronic and digital signatures, as well as online notary services to help expedite divorces and other legal matters that could be filed online. These efforts only accelerated during Covid-19 orders-in-place that made it difficult if not illegal to interact with a notary, attorneys or your ex.

To notarize divorce papers, typically you simply either use a notary public near you through your attorney, court, or a local notary — there is usually one on staff at your bank or credit union, local post office, AAA (a free benefit to members), UPS store, or a friend. I always use my neighbor Jill.

For online notary service, you can use Notarize.com, though at $25 per document, it is very expensive compared with a notary public fee of $2 to $5 per document at other locations, or, in my case, the cost of a glass of wine for Jill.

Before you hire an online notary service, or sign your divorce papers digitally or electronically online, check to make sure that your state accepts these online services.

Other companies to consider:

3 Step Divorce Review: Is DIY divorce right for you?

LegalZoom Review: DIY online divorce


Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

3 Comments

Tried mydivorcepapers.com after reading this blog and they scammed me. Took $159 and then the website stopped working and when I called to get a refund they said I had to email a request. Sent two emails and never heard back or got my refund.

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