What You Need to Know About the Legal Process of Filing for Divorce 
a senior couple sitting on opposite ends of a couch after speaking about divorce

If you’ve recently decided to file for divorce, you may not be too familiar with the process—and that’s completely understandable. The process can be rather intricate and it can take more time if your partner doesn’t comply as expected. Either way, going about filing for divorce can be made possible when you learn more about what is expected and the steps that both you and your spouse must take. We discuss each step of the legal process, from start to finish. Allow us to walk you through. 

The Petition for Divorce

To initiate the process, a document entitled “Original Petition for Divorce” is filed. This can be done with your local court clerk, but it is best if you have a lawyer to assist you throughout this step. In some states, this document is also referred to as a “Letter of Complaint”. In the document, you will state why you are filing for divorce and how you want to settle finances, custody, and other issues between you and your partner. 

Filing the Complaint 

Once you fill and complete the document, your lawyer will file the petition with the court. The lawyer and the court ensure that the petition has been acknowledged and signed on behalf of the other spouse. In some cases, not all spouses may want to comply in the step of the process, which is exactly why it is crucial for you have to a lawyer to assist you. 

Receiving Your Spouse’s Response

The served spouse has a specific time lot to respond to the petition, which is usually around three works or so. The answer states whether or not the served spouse agrees with the petition and is willing to continue with the process. In the case that the spouse does not respond to the petition, the court will assume that he or she agrees to the terms and proceed with the case. 

Divorce Discovery

Discovery is a legal mechanism that is designed to gather information about either party for the divorce. There are four steps to discovery, which include disclosures, interrogatories, admissions of fact, and request for production. Each of these steps is intended to discuss personal items that belong to each spouse, to admit or deny listed facts regarding the marriage, and to obtain documents such as bank statements, statements of income, and others if need be. 

Deposition and Divorce Mediation 

During depositions, your lawyer will take sworn testimony from the opposing party and any witnesses involved. During mediation, both parties are ordered to come together and meet with their lawyers to discuss any conflicts or disagreements they may have and try to come to an agreement that meets both parties’ satisfaction. This is not always the case with divorces, whereas simple divorces are possible as well. 

Proceeding to Divorce Court 

At court, your lawyer will present evidence and arguments for each side, and it is up to the judge to decide what to do with unresolved issues such as child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and property division. Once the judge has come up with a decision, the judge will grant the divorce. This is also the opportunity for both parties to argue their case before the judge. 

Appealing the Decision 

Should either party be unhappy with the judge’s decision regarding unresolved issues, either or both spouses can appeal the decision to a higher court? Although, it is typically unusual for an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision. It is also important to remember that settlements usually cannot be appealed if both spouses agree to their terms. After trial, if there is something that needs to be altered, you may qualify to modify the decree. 

After Divorce Court 

The final decree states how any marital property will be divided, any orders regarding custody of children, child support, and any orders of spousal maintenance. By having a lawyer with you, they can help you interpret the decree carefully before you sign. You can also wish to make changes to the decree during this step. If there are any mistakes regarding the way the decree is worded, you will want to catch those and bring attention to them before you add your signature. 

Learn More About How to Go About Your Divorce With a Lawyer 

The timeline of this process varies on any issues you and your spouse may have and or any disagreements. We’re here to help you ease the process as much as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you throughout your divorce.