A divorce or legal separation proceeding is really a lawsuit between two people. You are petitioning for orders related to your right to see your children and to protect your assets and income. Because the stakes are so high, the two parties to the proceedings must be aware that there is a pending divorce or legal separation action. In addition, each party must have knowledge of what the other party is requesting. For these very important reasons, any divorce or legal separation must include a Summons and Petition.

If you have minor children the Summons and Petition must specifically contain information and provisions concerning the children. 

The purpose of the Summons is to notify the other party of the existence of the action for divorce or legal separation. The party preparing the Summons is responsible for filing the document with the Clerk of Circuit Court. That party must then provide copies to the Court, Family Court Commissioner and the other party. At the very least, you must attach the Petition to the Summons. Other documents that you may attach include an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Temporary Order, Financial Disclosure statement and any other document required by local court rule.

The reason for a Petition is to start a divorce action or legal separation. Upon completing the Petition it must be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court and distributed to the Court, the other party and the Family Court Commissioner. You will need to include background information about you, your spouse, and any minor children. 

The following information will be asked in the Petition:

  • Complete name of spouses and any minor children

  • Dates of Birth of spouses and any minor children

  • Residency information

  • Military membership

  • Pregnancy

  • Date of marriage

  • Location of marriage

  • Any previous marriages and date marriage ended

  • Whether any premarital or marital agreements exist


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