The Basics of the Petitioner vs. Respondent in the Divorce Difference

Divorce Settlement Agreement The Basics of the Petitioner vs. Respondent in the Divorce Difference

Petitioner vs. Respondent in Divorce—What You Need To Know

Deciding to get a divorce from your spouse can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how the legal system works. Don’t get overwhelmed if you don’t understand the legal jargon—we’re here to help you learn everything you need to know about filing for divorce.

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Who Is the Petitioner in a Divorce Case?

The petitioner is the party responsible for starting the divorce process. They complete and file the Petition for Divorce—also known as the divorce application—with the court. The petitioner has to:

  • Fill out the divorce forms and relevant paperwork
  • File all the required paperwork with the local court
  • Serve their spouse
  • Prove that their marriage is broken because of the other party’s actions in fault-based divorces

Who Is the Respondent in a Divorce?

The respondent is the person who receives the request for the divorce. It is their responsibility to respond to the Petition for Divorce.

The respondent can accept or defend the petition by taking one of the following steps:

  • If they agree with the reasons for divorce, they can send an Acknowledgement of Service form within eight days of receiving the petition
  • If they don’t, they need to prepare and send an Answer to the Petition of Divorce and have 21 days to respond

Should You File for Divorce First?

Whether you file for a contested or an uncontested (friendly) divorce, one spouse needs to start the process and become the petitioner. According to divorce law, it doesn’t matter if you’re the petitioner or the respondent—the court will treat you fairly and will not provide any special privileges to either party. Whoever has the stronger case (and a better lawyer) will end up winning.

There are various pros and cons of being a petitioner and a respondent, as mentioned below:

Pros Cons
Petitioner
  • If you and the spouse live in different counties or states, you can file the petition at your local county court, making the process convenient for you
  • You can set court dates for whatever date you like
  • You can present your case first
  • You will have to pay the filing fees and other divorce-related fees if required
  • The divorce process is permanent, so if you and your spouse are still contemplating reconciliation, you won’t be able to go back
Respondent
  • You can present your case after your spouse has shown all their cards
  • You don’t have to pay the divorce filing fees at the beginning of the process
  • You don’t have the time to prepare properly for the divorce
  • Your transportation cost will increase if you’re not in the same county where the divorce process is taking place

In no-fault states, you don’t need to provide a reason for your divorce other than an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage. For others, you always have the option to file for an uncontested divorce. Either way, if you file for divorce first, it does not mean that you will automatically be in more favor with the court.

The Easiest Way To Get a Divorce

If you and your spouse are planning to get a divorce, the best solution is to go for an uncontested one. In this type of divorce, you and your spouse can mutually decide on important divorce-related issues, such as:

  • Child support
  • Visitation matters
  • Alimony
  • Income and asset division

An uncontested divorce ensures that spouses end their marriage amicably. Since you and your spouse agree on essential matters, you do not need to hire a lawyer or go to court—you can handle everything yourselves. In case there are some disagreements, you can always hire a mediator to sort it out.

How To File for an Uncontested Divorce

Here are the steps you should take if you want to file for an uncontested divorce:

  1. Gather and prepare all the divorce-related paperwork
  2. File the documents with the court
  3. Pay the divorce filing fee or check if you are eligible for a waiver
  4. Serve your spouse with the divorce papers
  5. Create the divorce settlement agreement with your spouse
  6. Visit the court for a final hearing

DoNotPay Can Draft a Divorce Settlement Agreement Within Minutes

Do you want to make the divorce process as uncomplicated as possible? Let go of that expensive lawyer you hired and use DoNotPay to create a low-cost divorce settlement agreement that will hold up in court! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Access DoNotPay from your web browser
  2. Choose the Divorce Settlement Agreement tool
  3. Enter information about your spouse and kids
  4. Provide additional details about your income and financial assets

That’s all from your side! We will draw up the document and send it your way within minutes. You should also consider getting your agreement notarized. If you think finding a notary is too much of a hassle, choose the right option in our questionnaire, and we will connect you with an online notary. You can schedule a video appointment and get your document notarized from the comfort of your home!

Creating divorce settlement agreements isn’t all we can do. We have a bunch of handy guides that will help you learn more about the divorce process. We can help you figure out how to get:

In case you need state-specific info, we can provide helpful guides to divorce procedures in Utah, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and any other U.S. state.

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