While there is nothing particularly new about the process of divorce in the general sense, for many, it is an unwarranted idea. Not many people enter a marriage with the idea that it won’t work out. Therefore, when unfortunate circumstances lead to a necessary or desired dissolution of marriage, many people are overwhelmed by the process and the prospect of a court proceeding. Thankfully, there are family lawyers available who can walk you through the four steps necessary for a divorce, hopefully making the process a little more bearable.
- Filing and Petition Notification
The first step to filing a divorce is actually to file the petition. An attorney can help you gather the necessary paperwork, and you will have to take it down to a courthouse where you will be instructed to notify your spouse. Depending on the circumstances and if there is an existing separation, you may or may not be required to deliver the petition personally. Most likely, the courts will inform you of approved process servers, or they may instruct you to send the material through certified mail.
- Awaiting the Response
Once the paperwork has been filed, and your spouse notified, they will have a grace period to either sign and agree to the petition as it stands or contests the petition and submit a response. If challenged, a judge may suggest arbitration, or they may want to hear the merits of both sides. However, if the divorce is amicable, then the process moves forward to the financial disclosure portion of the process.
- Financial Disclosure
In addition to the filed petition(s), each spouse will complete a financial disclosure, explaining and defining all the marital assets as well as personal assets. The information gathered during this phase of the process will help the court determine any necessary alimony, spousal or child support before granting the divorce.
- Judgment and Dissolution of Marriage
If all of the required paperwork is submitted on time and the original petition is agreed to, then the divorce, depending on state regulations, may move reasonably quick. However, if the original petition is contested and the couple cannot find common ground, forcing the court into deliberations, then the process could take months or even up to a year.
Divorce is likely an uncomfortable process for the people directly affected, but family lawyers are used to the process. Don’t go through a divorce on your own, let a qualified divorce attorney help you through the filing and possible proceedings.