Tis the season for stressful holidays. And for those struggling with a failing marriage, this might be the season to get divorced. If you’re considering getting divorced before the new year – or in the new year – you’ll want to know what the process is. That’s why we’ve provided this “how-to” for getting divorced. But first, let’s talk about why people decide to get divorced.
Reasons for Divorce
There are numerous reasons people seek divorce. Here are a few of them:
- Getting in for the wrong reasons: money, pressure, because marriage is a “band-aid” for a soured relationship.
- Lack of individual identity.
- Getting lost in the “mom” and “dad” roles. It’s not uncommon for old couples, whose kids have flown the nest, to realize that they no longer have any shared interests. This is the main reason why the grey divorce rate has grown over the years.
- The intimacy disappears.
- Unmet expectations.
- Financial issues.
- Inability to see eye-to-eye.
Whatever your reason for considering divorce, there are set steps you will need to take to get divorced. Hence, we bring you a “how-to” for getting divorced.
Your Divorce, Specifically
The necessary steps for obtaining your divorce will be dependent on the particulars of your relationship. The dissolution of a marriage in which the parties have been married for a short period of time, have no children, and little property or debts will most likely be less involved than a divorce where the couple has been married for a long period of time, shares minor children, or where there is significant property or debt to be divided. The question of if both parties are seeking the divorce will also determine the ease at which they are granted that divorce. A partner not wanting the divorce might respond in a way that allows them to prolong the process. If a couple can both agree to the divorce the process can be much smoother and quicker. This also applies to the agreement process because if a couple is bogged down with fighting and disagreements over everything, the process will be much slower.
1. Petition for Divorce
To start the divorce process one of the spouses must file a petition. Even if both spouses are in agreement, one of them will have to file a petition with the court asking for the divorce. This petition states the grounds for the divorce. These vary from state to state. California is a no-fault state, meaning no fault is placed on either party regardless of infidelity, etc… All jurisdictions allow for some type of no-fault grounds such as “irreconcilable differences.” Some states will consider fault grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abandonment. Your family law attorney will be able to advise you on if fault grounds are available in your state, and if so, whether or not it makes sense to file for divorce on fault grounds.
2. Temporary Orders for Support and Custody
If one spouse is seeking financial support or custody of children, that spouse will need to ask the court for temporary orders for support and custody. A temporary order is usually granted within a few days of the initial petition. It remains in effect until the full divorce court hearing. If the party seeking the temporary order is the same party who is filing the petition, it’s advised that they file both the divorce petition and the temporary order at the same time. If you are not the party that filed the divorce petition but will be looking for temporary support or child support, it’s advised that you file your request for the temporary order as soon as possible.
3. Proof of Service and Response
When a party files for divorce they also need to file for a proof of service of process. This document proves that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. This can be done through a process server, or by a lawyer. There are numerous ways to do this and you’ll want to consult a lawyer for advice on how to do this. If the parties mutually agree on the divorce, it is best for the party who files the complaint to arrange for service of process to the other party’s attorney.
Once the party receives the service of process they will need to file a response to the petition. In states where fault grounds can be filed and the responding party wants to dispute those grounds, he or she needs to address it in the response. They are able to dispute the facts alleged in the grounds for divorce. Additionally, if the party disagrees with property division, support, custody, or any other issue, this should be set out in the response.
When two divorcing spouses disagree on issues they must come to an agreement that settles their differences. Often times this is done through mediation. During this process every aspect of a marriage is resolved: child custody and visitation, child support, property division and any spousal support. Working with a mediation lawyer can help you receive the settlement you are seeking when it comes to dissolving your marriage. It’s within your best interest to try and resolve all these issues outside of court. This will cut down on legal fees, time spent arguing, and any headaches that can come with trying to go back and forth to find an agreeable settlement. Any issues left undecided during the mediation process will have to be decided at a trial.
5. Order of Dissolution
Once everything is decided upon an order of dissolution is set forth. This document spells out how the property and debts are to be divided, what child custody and visitation schedule is, what support payments (spousal and child) need to be paid, and any other issues. If the parties are able to negotiate their own resolution to all of the issues, their lawyers will draft the order of dissolution and submit it to the court. If the Order of Dissolution complies with legal requirements and both parties entered into it knowingly and willingly and can attest to it, then the judge approves it. This means the divorce is finalized. If these issues cannot be resolved then a couple will have to go through divorce court and have a judge decide on the aspects of the marriage dissolution. Once that is decided an Order of Dissolution is the end result of the trial.
6. Starting Life as “Single”
One of the hardest steps of a divorce is the “moving on” step. Once all the dust is cleared, all the paperwork signed, you now find yourself entering the “single” box on your important forms. Rather than view this in sadness, there are some ways to look at your new life with hope and excitement. It’s up to you how you will tackle each day, but in the meantime, here are some suggestions:
Exercise. Exercise is good for anyone, even people not going through a divorce. But it can be especially helpful for those going through traumatic times because exercise helps your body produce endorphins, which are feel-good brain chemicals.
Change Up Your Diet. Emotional times can often cause people to gain or lose weight. Divorce can magnetize these ups and downs, causing them to veer out of control. You can completely restrict meals, or binge on unhealthy foods. Try to get at least three square meals a day that combine protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Additional Healthy Brain Foods
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty wild fish and nuts, have been shown to support brain function and elevate mood. Steel-cut oatmeal provides serotonin-boosting complex carbohydrates, and can also be a comfort food. Just adding a few of these things to your diet can help improve your mood.
Try to Maintain a Normal Schedule. Though it might seem hard to get back to a normal schedule, it’s important that you try to.
Sunshine and Vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D for its natural processes.
Support Network. Friendships can be hard to maintain after a divorce. If your old social networks are no longer available to you, find new ones. Check out support groups or charities that you’ve always wanted to be involved with.
Relax. We know stress is not good for us. Divorce-induced stress can cause any number of physical maladies. Try to handle stress by treating yourself to restful experiences, such as a monthly massage or a yoga class.
Mindfulness. The positive effects of mindfulness are at the forefront of psychological research right now. This Eastern philosophy teaches people to be continuously in the moment and aware of the present rather than worrying about the past or future.
Consider the Help of a Therapist or Mental Health Professional. If you are already genetically predisposed to clinical depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, you might want to think about seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you don’t feel open to that, consider seeing a general medical practitioner for an overall wellness checkup that includes a depression screening.
Hold the Brakes on Another Relationship. Consider the single life for a while. This is a great time to re-connect with you!
Working with a Divorce Attorney
If you are facing a divorce, you should work with a divorce attorney that will take a vested interest in your specific situation and advise you on what you might face in a divorce regarding property division, child support and custody, and alimony. They will be able to advise you on your options. A divorce attorney will provide support and guidance as you work towards ending your marriage.
For advice on divorce, you need the expert law firm of Law Offices of Korol and Velen, Certified Family Law Specialists.