Petition for Divorce – The document that starts the divorce proceedings with the court. All divorces must file a Petition. There is no such thing as an online divorce. The Petition tells the court who the parties are, what the issues are and what the party wants the court to do.
Counter Petition – This document is the same as a Petition for Divorce but is the responding spouse’s counter request for a divorce, what that party believes the issues to be and what that party wants the court to do.
Response – This document is the response of the responding spouse to the Petition for Divorce. If this pleading is not filed, the spouse that filed the Petition can obtain a default judgment against the non-responding spouse and can obtain a divorce on any terms the Petitioning spouse requests.
Temporary Orders – These are court orders that act like a band-aid to help while the case is pending. They can include things like who drives what car, who lives in the marital residence, who pays what bills, with whom the children live, when the children visit with the other parent, how much child support is paid, whether there is spousal support paid, etc.
Discovery – This is the process for making the other spouse disclose documents and information with regard to the issues in the divorce. Sometimes one party has more access to this information than the other. This process lets both parties have equal access to the information necessary to properly divide assets and debt and determine issues related to the children.
Decree of Divorce – This is the document that finally disposes of all the issues in the divorce. It divides property and, if there are children, it includes the parenting plan.
Parenting Plan – This is included in the Decree of Divorce and lists the agreements and/or court orders that provide for the possession of the children, visitation with the children, rights and duties with regard to the children for each parent, and the support of the children. It can contain provisions for passport and international travel, and even activities or counseling for the children.