Divorce Process: The 5 Steps
Divorce is never easy. After all, it’s one of the most challenging things you will ever have to experience. The decision to divorce your spouse may have been an arduous process in its own right, but there are still steps that you must take to remain within the law.
The following article provides information on each phase of the divorce process.
1. Filing for Divorce
The first step in the divorce process is filing for divorce. The person who wants to get divorced (the petitioner) must file a petition with the court.
The petition states that the marriage is no longer viable and asks for a divorce. The respondent (the person being sued for divorce) can also file a counter-claim for divorce.
The petitioner must provide the court with:
- Information about both spouses
- Information about children if there are any involved.
- A copy of the marriage certificate to prove that they were married.
The petitioner can choose how they want to serve their spouse, either by mail, hand-delivering them, or having a process server do it for them.
2. Serving the Divorce Papers
The respondent has a certain number of days to respond to the petition. If they do not respond, the petitioner can file for a default judgment, and the divorce will be granted automatically.
3. Waiting for a Response
The respondent does not have to respond if they agree with the petitioner on everything in their petition. The respondent can also file a cross-petition for divorce, which is a claim against the person who filed the original petition.
4. Negotiating a Settlement Agreement
With the help of a lawyer, the couple must negotiate and come up with an agreement that defines all of the issues that are involved in the divorce, like child custody and property division. They must make sure that they both sign the agreement for it to be legally enforceable.
If the couple has divided their property and debts, reached an agreement on child custody and support, and are both satisfied with how everything will be divided, they can file for a summary dissolution. The court will ensure that the settlement agreement is fair to both parties before granting it.
If the divorce is contested, meaning that one or both of the parties do not agree to all of the divorce terms, it will go to trial. The trial will be heard by a judge who will make a final decision on all of the disputed issues.
The uncontested affidavit will not be filed, and the process can be much more expensive because both parties will need to hire attorneys to represent them at trial. The trial can take several weeks, depending on how many contested issues there are.
5. The Divorce Decree is Finalized
The divorce decree is the final order in a divorce case. It will dictate:
- How the property and debts are divided
- Who has custody of the children
- How much child support and alimony (if any) will be paid
The divorce decree is binding on both parties and cannot be changed without going back to court.
The divorce process can be complicated and stressful, but an experienced attorney can make it significantly easier. The Slaughter Law Firm attorneys are ready to help you through all steps of your divorce case for the best outcome. For more information about our firm, visit our website or contact us.