What is a Joint Petition?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2020
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A joint petition is a document filed by two or more parties who wish to make a request to the court together. Frequently, the requesting parties are a married couple. These types of petitions are usually used to ask the court to approve some type of legal arrangement, such as granting a divorce. In addition to divorce cases, joint petitions are commonly used in child custody proceedings, bankruptcy suits, and foreign national marriage cases.

Also referred to as a joint petition for dissolution of marriage or for summary dissolution, a joint petition for divorce can be filed by two married spouses. In the petition, the couple simply asks the court to approve the dissolution of their marriage. In some jurisdictions, a couple may elect to file the petition jointly, even if they have not reached an agreement on issues like property division, child support, or child custody. By filing the petition, the couple can avoid paying for expenses associated with serving the divorce papers.


Sometimes joint petitions are used in child custody cases. When non-married parents reach a decision about which parent their kids should live with, for example, they may file a petition together asking the court to approve their agreed-upon arrangement. These petitions can be advantageous for a couple of reasons. In general, they offer an inexpensive way to change custody arrangements because the parties have already agreed on the outcome in advance. Additionally, courts often defer to these petitions and usually approve the request with few challenges.

A joint bankruptcy petition typically refers to a bankruptcy filing that is made by two spouses. Usually, this petition is filed because the couple has developed significant financial problems. It the petition is approved, the court may supervise the repayment of the couple's outstanding debts. Alternatively, the court may agree to void the couple’s debts, an outcome that will likely make it difficult for the couple to secure credit down the road.

A waiver of joint petition is a document in which parties voluntarily agree to surrender their right to file these types of petition in a case. In some jurisdictions, for example, when a foreign national marries a citizen, the foreign national receives a conditional permanent residency status. After a period of time, the foreign national and the citizen are required to file a joint petition to remove the conditions on the permanent residency status. One of the spouses may give up this right, however, if certain conditions are met. For example, if the marriage ended in divorce or if abuse existed in the relationship, one of the spouses may be able to request a waiver of the joint petition requirement.


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