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A divorce will begin with a document called a Petition (or Complaint in some states) that formally notifies the court and the other spouse that he or she wishes to end the marriage. This document also presents an overview of terms, such as child support, custody and visitation rights, spousal support, property and debt division, and last-but-not-least, attorney’s fees and costs.
Opposing papers or a response is then filed by the other spouse. In some states, if a spouse does not file opposing papers within a certain window time from when the petition was issued, the spouse can lose the right to have his or her side of the case presented in court.