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The Divorce Process

The Divorce Process

When Kate and Sal said “I do,” they never thought they’d eventually be saying “I do” to the divorce process.

The Road to Divorce

Most couples don’t expect their “happily ever afters” to end with divorce filings and heated arguments over whether or not the kids will be with one parent or the other during the holidays. No matter how it ends – either after long sessions of couples therapy, or without even so much as a prior mention of the “D” word – it hurts. Some couples don’t ever speak after the divorce. For example, at the time of her divorce from ex Russel Brand, Katy Perry said in an interview: “He hasn’t spoken to me since he texted me saying he was filing for divorce.” While a couple may decide not to speak, it’s not uncommon for them to fight up until the day the divorce is filed, and more so even after that.

Cathy Meyer might have had inclinations that her 17-year-old marriage needed some work, but she never could have guessed that her husband would just walk out the door, leaving her with their two kids.

“On January 1st, our anniversary, he was madly in love and told me he couldn’t live without me,” she said. “On January 10th, we were getting ready to go to church, and we had a little tiff and he said ‘I’m going to go get a Coke’ and he picked up his car keys and quite literally never came home again.”

Kate and Sal

When it came to Kate and Sal’s four-year-old marriage, it came down to a simple matter of “just growing apart.” After struggling through couples therapy for eight months they decided that neither one of them wanted to continue the marriage. And that’s not uncommon. 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.
  • Infidelity.
  • Unmet expectations.
  • Financial issues.
  • Inability to see eye-to-eye.

Whatever your reason for considering divorce, there are steps you will need to take to obtain your divorce.

Your Divorce

Divorce and Money

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.

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.

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.

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.

Negotiation

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.

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.

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.

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