The first step in a divorce proceeding is the preparation and filing of a Complaint. The legal document that starts the proceeding is entitled “Complaint for Divorce”. The Complaint states the grounds for divorce and the vital statistics of the parties and the marriage. You file the Complaint at the Clerk’s Office at the Courthouse.

The Complaint also covers certain technical matters and asks the court for anything you might want. If you and your spouse cannot agree on something (support, custody, visitation, property division, attorney’s fees, court costs) then you must ask the court for it in the petition or the court cannot give it to you. If the list seems long, or if it includes more than you want, think of it as a wish list.

If the wording seems strange, remember that it is a formal legal document and much of the wording is required by law. If your spouse has already filed, you can file a Countercomplaint for Divorce with your Answer.