How to Start the Divorce Process & File For Dissolution of Marriage

How to Start the Divorce Process & File For Dissolution of Marriage

Are you going though a divorce without an attorney? I’m going to talk to you about how to start the divorce process and how to file a petition for dissolution of marriage.

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I’ve helped thousands of people in my 20 years as a family law attorney get their divorce process started. I’ve also helped them walk through the divorce process. You may be going through a divorce without a lawyer and just need to know how to get started.

Although starting the divorce process from an emotional standpoint may be a difficult thing, from a practical standpoint, it’s really not that hard.

The thing you need to do to start your divorce process is file something called a petition for dissolution of marriage. In some jurisdictions it may be called a petition for divorce. In your petition for dissolution you’re going to be telling the other party and the court what it is you want to happen as a result of the divorce.

A broad outline of what you will be including in your petition for dissolution of marriage is you’re going to be making statements or proposals about how you want to share children as far as custody and parenting time; the division of property and assets and spousal maintenance or child support.

You need to check the laws of wherever you are to find out how much detail you need to put in your petition for dissolution. Some states don’t require as much detail. For example, where I practice in Arizona it’s a ? jurisdiction so you don’t have to put specific details about who is going to what piece of property for example the other party is getting. You just have to put the other party on notice that things are an issue.

If you are the one filing for petition for dissolution then you will be called the petitioner throughout the process and the other party will be called the respondent. Once you have your petition for dissolution filled out, then you need to take it to the clerk of the court wherever you are located and file it.

Often the clerk of the court has a charge they will assess to you in order to process your petition for dissolution. There may be some cases where you can get those fees deferred if you are not in a position where you can file the initial fees.

Talk to the clerk at the court to see if you can get the fees waived or deferred until a later date. There’s a couple of ways that you can get your hands on a petition for dissolution. In many places there are forms. self-help center, law library. Another way to file petition for dissolution is to hire an attorney and have that person help you prepare the petition for dissolution and get it filed.

Once you get the petition for dissolution filed, there’s another step and that would be serving the respondent. But I will cover that in another video.

Wendy Hernandez is a family law attorney in Phoenix, AZ and founder of Command the Courtroom which teaches you how to handle yourself in court and achieve the best outcome when representing yourself in your divorce or child custody case.

◼️Legal Disclaimer:

This video recording is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as the rendering of legal advice. The viewing of this recording does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only formed when you have signed an engagement agreement. We cannot guarantee results. Past results do not guarantee future results. Consult with an attorney for information regarding the specifics of your case.

#divorcesupport #divorcehelp #divorceattorney


  1. Hi Wendy, first of all, I appreciate you taking the time to make these very informative videos. They have given me hope that I can someday obtain equal time with my 2 boys. If you can spare a moment, I would like to talk to you about a specific topic, or maybe you could do a video about my situation. It has to do with interpretation of an existing divorce decree, specifically about Health Insurance (which I am 100% responsible for, on top of child support) and a medical procedure that my son needs, but his mother is refusing to agree to “allow”. Can you help? You can send me an email to if you can help. Please. Thanks you. Also, please delete this comment so my email is no longer exposed. Thanks again!

  2. What is your position or feeling about filing in Federal Court rather than local County Court? For instance, let’s say your marriage was recognized in a state (thus jurisdiction) other than where you live at present, and the laws differ between the two, yet the Federal law may cover both.

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