Did you know that 2.3 people out of 1,000 go through a divorce in the United States?
There are all kinds of reasons why couples decide to break their vows and move on. Sometimes, one or both partners finds that they no longer have a love for the other, and sometimes both parties find themselves arguing all the time and unable to agree on anything. Whoever is at fault, a divorce is never fun.
But there are bright sides to it as well. If you’ve fallen out of love and want to move on with your life, this is your chance. And if both parties can do it amicably, the divorce can often be better financially for both sides.
Either way, you must understand the divorce process inside and out so that you can protect your rights and interests. Here’s what you need to know.
Navigating Legal Requirements for Divorce
In a divorce, both parties have to acknowledge that the marriage existed at one point. Some of the more common grounds for a fault divorce include abandonment, adultery, or imprisonment.
In a no-fault divorce, neither party has to prove fault on the part of their spouse for the judge to grant the divorce. Usually, in a no-fault divorce, the judge will cite the grounds for divorce as “irreconcilable differences.”
Whether a couple opts for a fault or no-fault divorce, they might still have disputes over child custody, property, and finances. These disputes have to be settled through court orders.
Serving the Petition
Once you decide to file for divorce, the first step is to serve the papers to the other spouse which is called the petition. This step is called the “service of process.” If the other spouse agrees to the divorce, they just have to sign the acknowledgment of the receipt of service.
If the other spouse doesn’t agree or can’t be located to be served, you can hire a professional process server to deliver the papers personally. When you first complete the service process, it establishes the date of separation.
If the other spouse agrees, they have the option to file a response with the court saying that they agree. This will speed up the process of the divorce, and it will cost less to go through the entire divorce process.
When there is no response within 30 days, the petitioner can request for the court to enter a default.
During the final steps of getting a divorce, both parties have to disclose their expenses, liabilities, assets, and income. In the event of an uncontested divorce where both spouses agree to the divorce terms, both parties will have to fill out a bit more paperwork to finalize everything.
After the court enters the judgment, the divorce becomes final. Keep in mind that the marriage isn’t formally dissolved until the end of the waiting period for the state. This means that neither spouse can remarry until the end of the waiting period.
When there are disputes and disagreements with the final terms, the process will be longer. This will require court hearings and in some cases, a trial to hear both sides of the case.
Going to Trial
A trial is held before a judge, and in some states, it is held before a jury. Both sides have to present all of their evidence and bring up their witnesses to support their claims. Normally, divorces go to trial because both parties are not agreeing on things such as custody of children, dividing assets and property, and financial support disagreements.
The judge or jury will take all the evidence and testimony into consideration before making a final judgment or decision. Also, the laws in your state will be part of the equation before making a final decision.
Because divorce trials are time-consuming, exhausting, and expensive, we recommend seeking other options to reach an agreement before going to trial. These other options include private arbitration, mediation, or collaborative divorce.
The final step is the judgment, where the judge signs the divorce paper and finalizes it. This judgment of divorce is also called an order of dissolution. When this is signed, the marriage is ended, and it specifies the details regarding the final points, such as custody, assets, debts, etc.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Although some people go through the divorce process on their own without the help of an attorney, sometimes this can be challenging. A lawyer will help protect your rights and will ensure that you don’t receive the short end of the stick in the end.
An experienced attorney will file the correct paperwork promptly, and they will also maximize your chances of ending up with a divorce judgment that you are satisfied with.
Unless you and your spouse 100% agree on getting divorced, we recommend contacting a divorce lawyer before filing for divorce. This will help you understand your rights, and they will show you how to protect your interest during the entire process.
Now You Can Go Through the Divorce Process
With our guide on how to go through the divorce process, you can go through this difficult time in your life with a bit more confidence. Unless you are familiar with and comfortable with family law, we recommend hiring a divorce lawyer to help you navigate this situation.
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