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Specialty tag(s): Pre-Divorce Guidance

November 23, 2022

Cropped shot of a thoughtful mature man researching divorce on a laptop in an office

Divorce, no matter the circumstances, is a challenging and emotionally charged time in one’s life. Due to the uncertainty, anxiety, and, sometimes, the shock of their situation, many going through it for the first time can find it comforting to know, typically, how the divorce process works, so they know what to expect moving forward. Though the specifics can vary, the divorce process generally follows the same progression.

Take a look at how divorce works in this step-by-step outline.

1. File a Divorce Petition

The first step in the divorce process is to file a divorce petition. Even if both spouses agree to a divorce, one must file a divorce petition with the court to begin the process of terminating the marriage. This person is known as the petitioner.

When a divorce petition is filed, it must include the following information:

  • A statement informing the court that at least one spouse in the marriage meets the specific state’s residency requirement for divorce.
  • The legal reason for the divorce.
  • Any other statutory information required by the state.

2. Put in a Request for Temporary Court Orders

In some situations, it may not be viable to wait months for a divorce to be finalized. When this is the case, one party can request temporary court orders to settle matters such as child supportchild custody, and spousal support.

If you request temporary court orders, the court will hold a hearing to obtain information from both spouses. Once the court has all the information they need, a judge will make a ruling on the request and those orders will remain in effect until the divorce has been finalized.

3. Notify Spouse and File Proof of Service

The next step in the divorce process is to serve your spouse with a copy of the paperwork and file proof of service. The proof of service states that you have met the statutory requirements for providing a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse. If you fail to file a proof of service or properly serve your spouse the necessary paperwork, the divorce case will be unable to proceed.

Many whose spouses may not want to get a divorce will hire a professional who is licensed to deliver the legal documents. This ensures the divorce petition is served properly.

Once the divorce petition has been served to your spouse, you will need to wait for their response. They must file a response within a certain time frame otherwise it could result in a default judgment against them. Reversing this judgment can be a complicated and costly process.

4. Negotiate a Settlement

Negotiating a settlement is a crucial aspect of understanding how the divorce process works. Important matters in your lives, such as child custody, property division, or the dividing up of a business can be difficult for both parties to come to an agreement over. In order to help resolve issues such as these, a court will often schedule what’s known as a settlement conference. Both spouses, as well as their attorneys, will meet to discuss these points in an attempt to come to a compromise. In some situations, mediation may also be arranged in which a neutral third party assists in the negotiations.

5. Trial

If negotiations fail and there are still problems yet to be resolved, the next step will be to take the divorce to trial. Both parties will present their evidence and witnesses in order to support their claim regarding matters such as property, financial support, child custody, and other similar issues. The court will then take all evidence and testimony into consideration and make the final ruling.

6. Finalize Judgment

The last step in the divorce process is to have the judgment finalized. This involves having the judge sign the judgment of divorce, also referred to as an order of dissolution. This will end the marriage and outline the specific details regarding matters such as child custody, financial support, division of assets, and all other issues.