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How to Notarize Your Divorce Papers Using a Notary Public
Preparing Your Divorce Papers: Basics
Notarizing divorce papers is a way of certifying the identity of the person who signs the documents.To notarize divorce papers, you must work with a certified notary public. Notaries are easy to find, even if small communities. Most banks, real estate offices, insurance companies and law firms employ notaries who can certify divorce papers. Contrary to popular belief, not all courthouses employ notaries, however. Even if your court clerk is a certified notary, he or she may be barred from offering notary services to the general public. Once you locate a notary public, he or she will look over the documents and verify that you are a valid party to the divorce case.
First, compile your paperwork. Before meeting with the notary public, gather up all divorce papers that need to be notarized. You can identify these papers by looking for a notary block, which is a space at the end of the document that provides room for a notary public's signature and seal. In many states you must have multiple divorce documents notarized, including your divorce complaint, financial affidavit and supporting documentation. The notary must certify each of these documents separately. Generally, the notary will charge a small fee for each document she notarizes. This will typically range from $2-10 per document.
Preparing for your Divorce
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Identification for Notarizing Divorce Papers
You will also need to show the notary public proof of your identity. To notarize your documents, the notary public will need to see proof that you are who you say you are. Generally, a driver's license, passport, or some other form of state-issued photo identification card will be adequate to have divorce papers notarized. In most cases, the notary will also check to make sure that your signature on your divorce papers matches the one on your photo ID.
If you do not have any current or valid photo ID, you will generally need to apply for such a document before you can have your divorce papers notarized. To get a passport or state issued identification card or driver's license, you will usually need to provide identifying documents, such as a birth certificate, Social Security Card, military ID card and proof of residence, such as an electric bill or water bill. That said, requirements for state issued IDs will be different based on where you live, so check with your local department of motor vehicles to find out exactly what you will need to show to get your photo identification to show the notary public for your divorce papers.
In some rare instances, state law may allow you to have documents notarized without showing a photo ID. For example, if your office's human resources representative is a notary public, has completed your hiring process, or has worked with you long enough to see verification of your identity, he or she may be able to notarize your divorce papers without asking to show your photo identification. This type of situation is the exception rather than the norm, however.
Identification for Your Divorce Notary: Applying for a Passport
ID for the Notary Public: Driver's License or State-Issued ID
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Notarizing Your Divorce Documents
Present the notary public with your divorce papers. The notary will review your paperwork and review the documents with you to ensure that you know what you are signing. She will also verify that no party is coercing you to get a divorce, sign away your property rights or relinquish custody of your children. If the notary has any questions about whether you are being forced to sign the divorce papers--for example--if your spouse is with you and is being angry, the notary public may decline to notarize your signature. Further, the notary will look over the documents for any special notarization instructions to ensure that your paperwork is filled out properly.
Ask the notary to witness your signature. To notarize your divorce papers, the notary public will need to see you sign and date the divorce paperwork in person. Your signature on your divorce papers will need to match the signature on your state ID card, drivers license or passport in order for the notary to The notary will not be able to certify and notarize any documents that you have already signed at home or in front of another witness, so be sure not to sign them until the notary public tells you to do so. Additionally, the notary cannot certify your spouse's signature if he or she is not physically present, so if you both must sign, coordinate your visit to the notary's office. Alternatively, you may be able to have your signature notarized then pass the documents along to your spouse through his attorney so that he can have them notarized on his own.
Once the notary public has watched you sign the documents, she will sign and date the document, indicating that she witnessed you signing the divorce papers in person, you have completed your part of the notarization process. After witnessing your signature, the notary public will use an embossed seal or stamp to finalize the process. The notary public will also add the transaction into an official logbook. This logbook allows the notary to verify that she witnessed you signature, should the court or any other party question the validity of your consent to the divorce documents. This is a particular useful safety net in contentious divorces, where once spouse is challenging the divorce and may be looking for logistical reasons to have the case thrown out of court. Additionally, notaries provide you with protection against fraud. For example, requiring your divorce documents to be signed in front of a notary public can ensure that your spouse does not try to forge your signature or coerce you into signing away legal, parental, or property rights without giving you a fair chance to review the documents.
Mobile Notaries for Divorce
If you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys or mediators have agreed on the terms of your divorce papers and are ready to sign the documents, some notaries public may be willing to come to you. These mobile notary public services typically charge more than the standard document-verifying fees, such as mileage to your site or a regular hourly rate. However, this can be a convenient way to ensure that your divorce papers get notarized quickly. This can also avoid the process of passing divorce papers from office to office or party to party using certified mail, which can cost more than a mobile notary, in some instances.
Mobile notaries are also often available after regular business hours, so if you and your spouse reach a divorce agreement at 6 p.m., after a long day of negotiations, and wish to finalize the documents immediately, this can give you after-hours access to a notary public. Likewise, if you are dealing with emergency custody issues and need to finalize papers right away to ensure your child's safety--for example, if you are requesting an emergency temporary custody order on a Friday night, a mobile notary service may be worth the extra money.