When clients come to see of us for divorce consultations, most of the time they are looking for the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get a divorce. In almost every consultation, I ask my divorce clients if they have talked to the other side about the divorce and if they answer yes, I next ask why they cant do a joint petition. Most of the time, my divorce clients didn’t even know a joint petition was possible. This article helps explain the joint petition process.
What is a joint petition?
A joint petition is often referred to as a two-signature divorce. Joint petitions are used in uncontested divorce cases. A joint petition is only appropriate when you and your ex have agreed to all aspects of the divorce including, not limited to: child custody, child support, child health insurance, the child tax deduction, visitation, holidays, vacations, travel, extra-curricular expenses, divisions of assets and debts and spousal support. A court cannot have 99% of your divorce issues agreed to in a joint petition. Simply, the parties must have 100% of the issues in the divorce agreed to in order to qualify for a joint petition divorce.
How long does it take to get divorced by joint petition?
A joint petition divorce is usually the fastest way to divorce. Our office can generally process the joint petition paperwork and have the divorce completed within 14 days from the date the joint petition is filed. Sometimes, it takes longer and sometimes it is faster. The time it takes to process the joint petition is largely up to each individual judge. Some judges are faster than others but a good guideline is about 2 weeks.
What other paperwork is involved with a joint petition?
In addition to the joint petition, you will also need at least 3 other documents to be submitted to the judge before your divorce can be finalized. These documents include: an affidavit of resident witness, a request for summary disposition, and your decree of divorce. If you have children you will need to complete the COPE class and submit your certificates to the court before you can divorce. If you are dividing pensions and retirement plans, you will need to submit your QDROs after the divorce is finalized.
Will I have to go to Court to get divorced?
One of the benefits of a joint petition is that it rarely requires a Court appearance. If the paperwork is done completely and correctly, a joint petition is usually approved by the judge without the parties appearing in Court. If a party changes their mind about the joint petition or if the paperwork is not complete, a Court appearance may be necessary.
Should I hire an attorney for my joint petition?
It is very tempting to use the forms on-line or the forms available at Self Help to do a joint petition divorce. In cases where there are no children and where there are no assets and debts and no spousal support, using forms and doing the joint petition yourself is recommended.
However, if you have children or if your case requires dividing assets and debts or the payment of spousal support, it is strongly recommended that you have an attorney prepare your joint petition for divorce documents. In our practice, we usually see at least one client a week who tried to complete the forms themselves and failed or a client who did the joint petition on their own and now requires an attorney to fix errors made at the time of divorce.
In general, having an attorney at the outset of your joint petition can save you time and money. Most attorneys charge less to complete the joint petition than they do to fix a joint petition decree after it has been filed by the Court. Also, having an attorney prepare the joint petition will take about 2 weeks from beginning to the end of your divorce. Trying to fix errors in a joint petition, will likely require filing a motion which usually takes at least 30 days for a judge to hear and could also require a trial which may take another 90 days at least. The costs for motions and trials are usually substantially more than the cost for the joint petition.
If you or someone you know is considering a joint petition divorce, we can help. Call our office today at (702) 433-2889 to schedule a consultation or fill out our on-line formfor more information.