How To DIY Divorce Papers

Updated September 12, 2023
12 min read
How To DIY Divorce Papers


Embarking on the process of separating from a spouse is undoubtedly a hard journey, often fraught with emotional complexities. However, understanding the involved procedures, such as knowing how to DIY divorce papers, can help lessen the logistical burdens. It allows you to take ownership of this part of the process and reduces reliance on external entities. In this guide, we will cover work with divorce papers and learn about the ways to get such documents without much fuss.

Understanding Divorce in the Context of U.S. Law

In the U.S., undergoing a paper divorce is a highly structured process that requires careful deliberation. Handling DIY divorce papers entails more than just separate living; it has far-reaching implications for you and your family. The complexities of a paper divorce can extend to dynamic family relationships, the reshaping of financial circumstances, and redefining personal well-being following legal separation. 

Given these significant impacts, understanding the legal mechanisms behind divorce forms is key, especially if you're considering a DIY approach. It goes beyond simply filling out the divorce paper forms. The heart of the matter also revolves around how the U.S. divorce laws and statutes apply to your unique circumstances, like division of assets, child custody, and alimony settlement. 

These complexities underscore the importance of familiarizing yourself with the essence of the DIY divorce papers process before embarking on it. After all, a paper divorce isn't just about ending a marriage; it's about setting the groundwork for your future.

What DIY divorce papers are

DIY divorce papers are legal documents that you fill out and submit yourself without the direct aid of a lawyer who works with family issues. They encompass a range of divorce forms needed to initiate and finalize a divorce. This option is often pursued by those looking to save on legal fees. However, it necessitates a clear understanding of the regulations and legal language used in divorce paper forms.

Types of Divorce Forms

In the U.S., divorce laws and procedures can vary significantly from state to state. This variability extends to the types and requirements of DIY divorce papers. Nonetheless, various divorce forms are commonly used in paper divorce processes across the country. It's essential to know and understand these forms when you're dealing with a DIY divorce. Here's a brief rundown of some common divorce paper forms:

  • Petition for divorce: This is the first form you'll deal with when initiating the DIY divorce papers process. It formally requests the court to end the marriage and outlines any relief you're seeking, such as child custody or spousal support.

  • Decree of divorce: The court issues this formal declaration once all the issues related to the divorce have been resolved or adjudicated. This document legally ends your marriage.

  • Divorce settlement agreement: This comprehensive document is crucial in uncontested divorce processes involving a paper divorce. It covers all agreements made between the parties concerning asset division, child custody, child support, alimony, and other pertinent responsibilities.

Bear in mind that handling divorce forms can be complex, particularly if there are substantial assets or children involved. Remember, taking the proper care when dealing with your DIY divorce papers can make the transition smoother and safeguard your interests.

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Where To Find Divorce Papers

When it comes to finding the right divorce forms for your DIY divorce papers process, knowing where to look is half the battle. While you can often source specific divorce paper forms from your local county or state court's website, the process can be time-consuming and sometimes confusing.

For streamlined access, platforms like Lawrina, a trusted legaltech ecosystem, provide a comprehensive range of divorce forms needed for your paper divorce process including a divorce settlement agreement template

By using Lawrina's easy-to-navigate interface, you can conveniently find and fill out your DIY divorce papers right from your home. These family templates and documents cover an extensive range of situations, indispensable for guiding you through each step of the divorce process. Using such platforms can simplify the DIY divorce papers process, taking some of the weight off your shoulders during a challenging time. 

Filling Out Divorce Forms

Successfully navigating through the realm of DIY divorce papers requires a blend of accuracy, detail, and a keen understanding of legal language. Each part of your divorce forms must be thoroughly filled out, reflecting the truth of your situation.

For instance, let's take an example. You must be extremely careful when filling out the "Property and Debts" section of a "Decree of Divorce" form. List all properties, assets, and debts, and determine how they will be divided. Accuracy in this section can prevent disputes from arising later, ensuring a smoother paper divorce process.

While it's a do-it-yourself endeavor, DIY doesn't necessarily mean doing it all alone. Depending on the complexity of your situation, seeking professional help may be a wise option. Especially when it comes down to intricate matters such as child custody arrangements or significant property divisions, clarity in your divorce paper forms is paramount. So, don't hesitate to seek external advice if you're uncertain about any details in your DIY divorce papers. It's about striking the right balance between self-reliance and getting the right help where necessary.

DIY Divorce Papers: Dos and Don'ts

When handling DIY divorce papers, there are a few key points you need to remember for a smooth paper divorce process. Let's split them into 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' to better guide you through:

  1. Review carefully: Always double-check entries on your divorce forms. Meticulous review is key in avoiding any legal complications down the line.
  2. Ensure transparency: Be as transparent as possible about all shared information. Honesty can save you from potential discrepancies or disputes during your paper divorce process.
  3. Keep records: Maintain a well-organized record of all communications, documents, and receipts related to your divorce. This way, everything is handy when you need it.
  1. Skip over complexity: Don't glide over complex aspects on your DIY divorce papers if you don't understand them. Instead, seek advice — be it from law-savvy friends, divorce lawyers, or reliable online resources.
  2. Ignore discussions: Avoid disregarding conversations with your spouse on crucial issues, be it a division of assets or child custody. Open communication can prevent disagreements from escalating into legal battles during the paper divorce. 
  3. Miss deadlines: Do not procrastinate on submitting your divorce forms. Keep track of all the relevant dates to maintain punctuality in your DIY divorce proceedings.

Remember, going DIY doesn't mean going it alone. There's plenty of help available to guide you — lean on it when necessary.


A DIY divorce might seem like a daunting task, but with a clear understanding of the legal environment, it is thoroughly achievable. While preparation and patience are keys to successfully navigating DIY divorce papers, always remember that professional legal assistance is readily available should you need it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my spouse doesn't sign the divorce papers?

In the US, if a spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers, the divorce case can become contested, pushing it into more complex territory. This refusal might lead to further legal processes. 


For example, under California law, if your spouse fails to respond within 30 days of being served with divorce papers, you can request a default divorce. However, if they contest the divorce, you could end up going through mediation or even a court trial to finalize the divorce.


Can you get a divorce without signing papers?

Yes, you can. Even if one party refuses to sign, divorce papers can still be enforced under U.S. law. In New York, for instance, if a spouse doesn't respond within 40 days of being served divorce papers, the court can move forward with a default divorce. 


The court would essentially decide the terms of the divorce in the non-responsive party's absence. Remember, state laws vary, so it's wise to understand your state-specific laws related to your DIY divorce papers process.


How long does it take to get a divorce once papers are filed?

In the U.S., the timeline to finalize a divorce after filing divorce papers significantly varies by state and the specific situation of the divorce case. In states like Nevada, an uncontested divorce where both parties agree on all terms can wrap up in as little as a few weeks. 


In contrast, contested divorces that reach the court stage can span several months or even years to finalize. This especially holds true for complex cases involving significant assets, child custody, and disputes over terms mentioned in the divorce forms.