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Filing for Divorce by Mail: Is it possible?

Filing for divorce in person requires spouses to appear at the clerk’s office. To avoid going to court, some couples choose to start the case and deliver the divorce information by mail. In this article, we will discuss if it is possible to submit documents to the clerk by post and what advantages and disadvantages this approach has.

Can divorce papers be mailed? The answer to this question varies depending on the location. Some states allow spouses to mail paperwork in all counties, while others only have it available in a part of them.

Can you mail divorce papers to the court in all states? You can file for divorce by post in California, Alaska, Washington, and some other states. In Arizona, you can only use this method in a few counties. You can check if the court in your location accepts papers by mail or find its address and contacts on the official Superior Courts website.

Can I mail my divorce papers to the court if I can’t do it in person? You can mail the paperwork if your state or county court allows it. If this option is unavailable, you can e-file the papers or contact the clerk’s office and ask about alternative ways to submit documents.

Can you mail divorce papers for free? No matter which method you choose to file for marriage dissolution, you must pay mandatory filing fees or submit a fee waiver if your financial situation is difficult. In Arizona, court fees vary from county to county; in Maricopa County, for example, they are $349 or $426.50, depending on the case type. Spouses who do not have the financial ability to pay them can submit an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Court Fees or Costs and Consent to Entry of Judgment.

So, you can file papers by mail to start a divorce in several states. This option is rather uncommon but can be useful in some specific cases.

How Do I Qualify for Divorce by Mail?

Requirements for spouses filing for divorce by mail may vary by state. However, regardless of which method you choose to submit the papers, you need to comply with the basic rules for starting a marriage dissolution process.

First, you must meet your state’s residency requirements. If you plan to file for divorce in Arizona, you or your spouse must have been a state resident for at least 90 days. If minor children are involved, they must reside in Arizona for no less than 6 months.

Can you mail divorce papers if you do not meet the residency requirements? In most states, including Arizona, you have to wait before starting the divorce process if you haven’t been a resident long enough.

Other requirements for sending papers by mail may apply to your case type. Some states recognize this approach to filing divorce paperwork only if your marriage dissolution is uncontested and you can agree with your spouse on child-related and property division issues.

In addition, for the clerk to accept your mailed divorce papers, your divorce letter must contain a sufficient number of copies, a receipt for payment of filing fees, etc.

After you mail the documents, you must wait for the clerk to receive them, check them, and return the certified copies. Then, you will need to serve the defendant, that is, send a divorce notice to your spouse.

Can divorce papers be served by mail? Serving divorce papers by mail, like filing for marriage dissolution, is allowed in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, California, Florida, and others. In Arizona, this option is an alternative method if you are serving divorce papers out of state (A.R.S. Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.2).

Can you serve divorce papers yourself? Unlike filing documents with the court, in most cases, you cannot serve the paperwork on the other party yourself in person or by mail until they sign the acceptance or waiver of service and agree to accept the documents voluntarily.

In Arizona, you can ask a sheriff, constable, or private process server to deliver the papers to the respondent. You can avoid formal service of process on the respondent if they sign an Acceptance of Service. In such a situation, you can hand over the documents to the defendant in person or by mail. If you both sign the Consent Decree for Dissolution of Marriage, you do not need to deliver the paperwork to the other party.

What happens after serving divorce papers to the defendant? You need to wait until they respond before proceeding to the next stages of the divorce process.

What Are the Main Benefits and Drawbacks of Divorce by Mail?

You have several options for how to organize divorce paperwork and file it with the court; each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

Mailing divorce papers can help you save time needed to attend the court clerk’s office and deliver the paperwork in person. It can be very important if you have an unstable work schedule or are involved in raising small children and have no one to leave them with when you are away. In addition, this option may be one of the most cost-effective ones because you do not need to spend money on travel in your car or public transport.

If you decide to submit papers by post, you can prepare paperwork to file for divorce without leaving home; most forms are available on official judicial branch websites. If you have an uncontested case, you can also contact the online document preparation service for help.

One of the main disadvantages of submitting papers by post is the long delivery of a legal divorce letter, which can lead to a waste of time. In addition, it may not be appropriate if you have some disputes regarding the divorce terms with your spouse and still have to attend the court hearing. Not all county courts accept papers by mail; if, in your state, only one of them has such an option, and the court is located far from your home, this can result in inconvenience in getting to that location, if necessary.

How Long Will the Process Take?

Filing divorce paperwork by mail can last anywhere from 1 to 3-4 weeks or more. It mostly depends on the speed of delivery. Since the clerk will return you copies after checking and time-stamping the documents, the time frame needed to submit the paperwork and get divorce papers mailed to you can take from several weeks to 1-2 months.

How long does it take to get divorce papers in the mail if you made a mistake and filed the wrong forms? In this situation, the clerk will most likely return the letter to you, and you will need to fill out the paperwork and send it again. This will prolong the process, which may take another month or more. The duration of filing papers with the court by mail will affect the overall length of the divorce.

Tips for Filing Divorce by Mail

If you want the process to go efficiently when getting a divorce, file only the papers required for your case. You should avoid making mistakes or inaccuracies when completing the paperwork and ensure you meet your state’s current legal requirements.

Here are some additional tips you may need to take into account when filing for divorce by mail:

Include Enough Copies of Each Document

You will need at least 3 copies of each form you file with the clerk’s office. The original stays with the court, and two copies are for you and your spouse. You may need additional copies if you have children or if there are any other case-specific circumstances. You can contact the clerk to ask exactly how many copies you need.

Send a Cover Letter

When sending papers by mail, you should prepare a cover letter. In it, you can list all the forms that you provide to the court and the number of their copies. You may also indicate a request to the clerk to return the file-stamped copies after review.

Send the Confirmation that Filing Fee is Paid

You need to pay a mandatory filing fee or submit a fee waiver to the court. First, find out the amount in your county and the available ways to pay it. Attach the payment check to the letter.

Include an SASE for the Return of File-Stamped Copies

Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the court along with the divorce papers so that the clerk can return the copies and the case opening notice to you.


To sum it up, in some states, you can file divorce papers by mail if you meet local requirements. This option has certain features, advantages, and drawbacks. If it is implemented in your county or state and you want to mail paperwork to start a marriage dissolution, take into account the need to provide a sufficient number of document copies and the obligation to pay court fees.