Divorce Forms & Divorce Kits: Do-It-Yourself Guidance

Divorce is one of the most taxing events a person can go through. Even starting the court process can be stressful. You have to figure out which forms you'll need, fill them out correctly and file them with the right court.

Some courts have self-help centers that offer divorce forms online, or you can hire a lawyer to gather and fill out divorce papers for you. When neither is an option for you, you'll have to do some research.

The following provides an overview of forms that are required to start a divorce case.

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Some important terms used in divorce papers vary. Here are the most common examples:

  • Divorce is called dissolution of marriage in some areas.
  • Some courts use alternate terms for physical custody (such as parenting time) and for legal custody (such as and decision-making responsibility or parental rights and responsibilities).
  • The plaintiff (the person who starts the case) could be referred to as the applicant. The defendant (the other spouse) could be referred to as the respondent.

Tips for filling out divorce forms

  • Type your responses or legibly print your responses in blue or black ink.
  • Write in "N/A" for anything that doesn't apply to you.
  • Double-check your forms to make sure you've filled in all the necessary information.
  • Know the deadlines by which you must hand in your forms and serve (give) copies to the defendant.
  • Make sure all information is accurate and truthful.

Divorce forms

Your court may require different forms than those that are listed. You'll likely have to file additional forms throughout your case. For information specific to your area, see articles about starting a case in our location-based child custody guides.

Divorce forms to start a case

  • Family court cover sheet: Names the parties, their attorneys, their case type and their children
  • Divorce petition (also called an application, complaint or motion): States the reason for your divorce and what you're asking the court to grant or agreements you've reached
  • Request for temporary orders: Asks the court to decide how custody and other matters will be handled while the case is in progress
  • Motion: Asks the court for other orders (e.g., an order to appoint a guardian ad litem)
  • Financial disclosure form: Declares a spouse's income, assets and debts
  • Affidavit of residency: Proves that you're a resident of the state
  • Divorce decree (with only the header filled out): Lays out the terms and conditions of the divorce to be signed by the judge at the end of the case
  • Fee waiver request: Asks the court to waive fees due to your income

Divorce agreement forms

If you agree on every aspect of the divorce, you can draft a settlement agreement to file with your initiating paperwork. Typically, you'll also file a motion asking the court to make your agreement into a court order.

A settlement agreement (also called a separation agreement) states the agreed-upon terms of your divorce.

Agreeing simplifies the process of starting a case as you won't have to serve your spouse with paperwork (more below).

Divorce forms for service

Service notifies your spouse of the case. You'll provide them with copies of the divorce petition and other forms you've filed. You'll also give them paperwork they'll need to get involved in the case, like these:

  • Summons: Informs your spouse that you've started a case and how much time they have to respond
  • Blank financial disclosure form: Declares a spouse's income, assets and debts
  • Blank answer form (also called a response): Allows the defendant to confirm or deny the claims made in the petition
  • Blank counterclaim (also called a counterpetition): Allows the defendant requests any orders they want the court to make
  • Acknowledgment of service: Only applicable when the defendant agrees to accept service from the plaintiff

Divorce forms for special circumstances

  • Request for an order of protection: Asks the court to prevent or restrict the other parent from contacting you and your child
  • Address confidentiality form: Asks the court to conceal your current address if revealing it would put you or your child in danger

Parenting plan

A parenting plan is a road map for how you will handle parenting after separation.

Your court may require you to hand one in or you may do so voluntarily to show you're dedicated to getting what's best for your child. You can also attach a parenting plan to your settlement agreement to lay out the details of your agreed-upon child custody arrangement.

While some courts have a specific template parents must use, many allow you to choose your own or attach additional paperwork to provide more information. The Custody X Change parenting plan template offers over 100 provisions and lets you create custom provisions to tailor your plan to your unique situation.

Personal documents the court needs

  • Marriage certificate: Proves you are married.
  • Birth certificates of parents and children: Verify your birthdates and birthplaces.

Divorce kits

A divorce kit includes all the forms needed to apply for a divorce along with instructions on how to fill them out.

Some family courts offer free do-it-yourself divorce forms online so you can put your own kit together. If you have an uncontested divorce, you might be able to use a generic divorce kit online. Be sure that your court will accept these forms before you commit to using them.

Documents for divorces with children

If you have a child under 18 with your spouse, your divorce may require extra documents — especially if you proceed to hearings or a trial and need to present evidence.

Documents you might file as evidence in a divorce involving custody include:

The Custody X Change app enables you to create all of these items in one place.

With a suite of tools designed for co-parents, Custody X Change makes sure you're prepared for whatever arises in your transition to two households.

Use our technology to simplify the custody aspects of your divorce before and after it's final.

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Long distance schedules

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Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

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Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

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Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


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