Divorce can be a difficult time for any family, and as a result, you may feel a little adrift after you and your partner divorce. It is critical to have the assistance of a divorce attorney who is well-versed in family law, especially one who knows the psychological and financial implications of divorce.
Because most aspects of divorce are so personal, emotions are sure to run high. You are dividing a life by splitting personal property, figuring up shared custody agreements, and attempting to separate yourselves financially.
Read on to learn more about the process of filing for divorce.
How to File for Divorce
Obtaining a Divorce Petition
When one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage, the divorce procedure begins. The petitioner is the spouse who filed the petition, whereas the respondent is the spouse who received the petition.
The petitioner will ask the court for a divorce and will describe the grounds for doing so. The most typical explanations are “irreconcilable disagreements” or “incompatibility.”
Service of the Process
When the petition is recognized by the court, it must then be sent (or “served”) to the other spouse so they are aware of the proceedings. This stage is referred to as the “service process.”
By law, you are not permitted to deliver your spouse with the divorce papers, but anyone over the age of 18 can do so. Your spouse must then sign an acceptance of service form, acknowledging receipt of the papers. If your spouse is difficult to locate or refuses to sign the petition, you may need to engage a private process server or a sheriff’s deputy.
At this time, any spouse can pursue protective orders, restraining orders, or interim spousal or child support orders.
The Petitioner’s Response
After being served, your spouse has 30 days to react before a default judgment is entered in your favor. If you file for divorce based on fault, your spouse’s response may give a defense or challenge facts made in the petition.
If your spouse objects to the property partition, planned support or custody, or any other problem, their restraining order will be issued.
Exploration, Bargaining, and Resolution
Following that, both you and your spouse will be required to disclose details regarding your assets, debts, income, and expenses. You won’t have to do anything else if your divorce is uncontested and both parties agree on the terms.
If there is a disagreement over assets, custody rights, or support payments, you must enter a formal discovery phase followed by negotiation. Both spouses will provide financial documentation during discovery.
To avoid going to trial, you may include mediation or other informal settlement mechanisms. If custody rights are at stake, for example, the court may mandate mediation or evaluation.
Hearing in Preparation for Trial
If mediation and other out-of-court tactics fail, the next step is a pretrial hearing or conference. This meeting provides the parties with one last opportunity to reach an out-of-court settlement. Both parties will present their cases to a judge, who will inform the spouses of how he or she may rule if their divorce case proceeds to trial.
The same judge who presides over your pretrial conference or hearing will also preside over your trial. This means you’ll have a solid understanding of how probable it is you’ll receive the desired outcome. The pre-trial conference will inform you if you are fighting a losing battle.
Going to Trial
If you and your husband cannot reach an agreement on some aspects of the divorce, you will go to trial. Because the docket is frequently occupied months in advance, you may have to wait for six or more months for your trial date.
The last step is the divorce order. Here a judge issues a divorce decree, also known as an order of dissolution, to detail how you and your spouse will divide your property and assets, handle custody of your children, and issue any spousal or child support payments.
Consult a Divorce Attorney
It’s a lot easier to get through the divorce process if you know what’s ahead. If you have any remaining questions regarding the process, whether filing a petition or enforcing a divorce decree, consult with a divorce attorney to learn more about your circumstances.