There is a lot of paperwork involved in divorce litigation, and it can be easy to get things mixed up. Before you get lost on the Internet trying to sort through it all, here’s a quick overview of some of the divorce documents you might encounter during your case.
Unless this is a true ID (irreconcilable differences) divorce, one spouse will file the following documents to get things started:
A summons: Which is a short document, filed with every civil case, that lets the other side know that, no kidding, you have to come to court, or else the other side can take a judgment against you, and giving you thirty days to get your act together and formally appear.
A Statistical Information Sheet: This is another short document, listing names, birthdays, social security numbers, dates of any military service, current addresses, dates of marriages, and the like. This document is filed under seal to prevent identity theft.
A Complaint: This is where your spouse formally recites that there are grounds for divorce, identifies the issues that need to be resolved, and asks the Court to resolve any matters related to the divorce that you and your partner are not able to resolve between yourselves.
A Cost Bond: This is a one-sentence document where you agree to pay court costs if your spouse does not.
An Affidavit: This is a one-paragraph document where you or your spouse swears or affirms that everything s/he has signed is accurate as best as s/he can tell.
If you have children, you’ll also see a “Proposed Parenting Plan” or a “Temporary Parenting Plan,” which is your (if you are the filer) or your spouse’s idea for what is the best schedule, at least in the short-term while the divorce is pending, for each of you to see the kids.
If their lawyer is thorough, you’ll also see a few more documents:
A “Notice of Statutory Injunctions,” which is a document advising both parties that they can’t sell or borrow against assets, cancel insurance policies, or bug the other spouse at work. The Court wants your economic status to stay as stable as possible while you work through the divorce process.
A Notice of Termination of Insurance Benefits – which tells you where you can get information to continue health insurance after the divorce is final, which is especially important if your insurance is through your spouse’s employment.
If their lawyer is particularly aggressive, you may also see:
Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents. This is a common pleading to file later, but a little more unusual to see right out of the box. It is long, and asks that you answer lots of specific questions under oath, and collect documents that are relevant to understanding and resolving the questions for your divorce. You will have 30-45 days, depending on when this document is served on you, to answer.
Margaret Held is a renowned Knoxville divorce attorney. To schedule a case assessment, please call 865-685-4780.