What is the Divorce Process?
Today, divorce is a very common occurrence across the US. Although the divorce process can be trying, it gives those who are in failing or failed marriages a chance at a new life.
A divorce also referred to as dissolution of marriage, is a legal process where marriage is legally terminated by a judge or an authority figure, giving both the spouses the status of being single. The divorce process may also include matters of distribution of property, child custody, child support, spousal support, division of debt, and more.
In the US, divorce laws differ from state to state. However, here is a rough outline of the process of filing for divorce across the states.
Filing the Divorce Petition
Filing for a legal petition is the first step on how to start the divorce process. This is a legal document that asks the court for the termination of your marriage. A divorce petition must include vital information such as the legal reasons for the divorce, a statement informing the court that the residency requirements for divorce of the state are met by at least one spouse, and any other information that the state court asks for.
Usually, most states in the US require at least one spouse to be a resident of that state for at least 3 months to 12 months. Likewise, grounds for divorce differ from state to state as well. But all the states offer the option of filing a no-fault divorce, which doesn’t require you to list a specific reason.
Your individual conditions may not allow you to wait for long periods for the divorce to be finalized. For example, if you are a stay-at-home mother who depends on your spouse for financial support, then the waiting period will probably not work well for you. Besides, how long the divorce process takes isn’t something that is fixed. This is exactly why the court allows spouses to ask for temporary orders for spousal support, child custody, and support.
Serving the Spouse
The next step in the divorce process involves serving the spouse, which means that you need to provide your spouse with a copy of the divorce paperwork and prove to the court that you have done so. This step is vital because if you fail to properly serve your spouse, or if you fail to provide proof of service to the court, then the court cannot proceed with the divorce case.
If both spouses have mutually agreed to the divorce, serving and the process of filing for the divorce itself will not be a problem. The spouse who is served usually referred to as the respondent or defendant is required to reply to the petition within a specific period. They can either agree or dispute, and assert their disagreements on any issue.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement
If you and your spouse fail to agree on certain divorce-related topics such as distribution of property, division of debt, spousal support, child custody, child support, etc., then you need to come to an arrangement that both parties agree upon. This is called negotiating a settlement. In some cases, the court schedules a settlement conference, where both spouses and their attorneys meet and discuss terms. Mediation may be required in some cases, which can really speed up the divorce process.
Going for Trial if Negotiation Doesn’t Work
Despite efforts, if the negotiation doesn’t work and you have failed to come to a settlement with your spouse, then you need to go to trial. This means that the court will help you decide the terms of the divorce after both sides have presented their cases. it’s always best to avoid a trial for a clean and short divorce process.
Finally, after the judgment is finalized, the “order of dissolution” legally terminates the marriage.