You start by filing a document with the court that is called a Complaint or a Petition, depending upon the state in which you live. Some states call the procedure a divorce, and some call it a dissolution of marriage. A copy of the Complaint is served on (or officially delivered to) your spouse, usually by the sheriff’s office or process server. This may not be necessary in some cases, where you and your spouse are in agreement. Your spouse will be given a certain number of days to respond to the Complaint. How the case proceeds from there will depend upon how your spouse responds. You and your spouse may reach an agreement, your spouse may file a response (either agreeing to what you’ve requested in the Complaint or contesting it), or may not reply at all. Other documents may also need to be filed, mostly commonly financial statements. Things can become quite complicated in a contested case, with numerous documents being filed, and one or more formal court hearings.