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The Divorce Process: How Does Divorce Work?

Divorce can be a complicated process and the divorce laws are different from state to state.

This information is designed to provide you with an overview of divorce process , but keep in mind that each case is unique.

Ask a divorce lawyer how your case may work out.

Step One: Find a Divorce Lawyer

Whether you decide on a divorce or you’ve been handed divorce papers from your spouse, a divorce lawyer will be able to help guide you through the process and give you guidance on your specific rights.

Your divorce case will touch the most significant areas of your life: where you live, personal property, custody and support of your children, and more. Make sure you find a divorce lawyer you trust.

To speak with a divorce lawyer in your local area, give us a call at 877-421-3761 or complete our free divorce case evaluation form.

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Step Two: Meet with Your Divorce Lawyer

Once you have found a divorce lawyer, he or she will meet with you to discuss your options.

There will be tough questions that you will need to answer honestly and completely, because the divorce attorney will need to know everything about your marriage, assets, spouse’s assets, your expenses, your children, and many other issues that surround your case.

You must also be prepared to bring financial documents like tax returns, bank statements, bills and mortgage documents.

Step Three: The Divorce Petition

The document that initiates a divorce case is called the “petition.”

The divorce petition informs the court that one of you or both of you wish to end the marriage.

The petition also informs the court of all the relief you are seeking such as: child support, alimony, name change, and division of property.

If you are responding to a divorce petition that was filed by your spouse, your divorce attorney will file an “answer” admitting or denying allegations contained in your spouse’s petition.

Your divorce lawyer may also file a “counterclaim” or “cross-petition” if you have your own reasons for filing for a divorce or want to raise issues your spouse didn’t include in his pleadings.

If you are the one filing the petition, you are referred to throughout the case as the “Petitioner.” If you are served with the petition, you are called the “Respondent.”

Usually, your divorce attorney will be able to gain service of the petition on your spouse within a couple weeks.

However, if your spouse is avoiding the petition or has left town, your divorce lawyer may need extra time.

If you and your attorney cannot locate your spouse to serve process, then you may be able to achieve service by publication in the local newspaper of the last known area where your spouse resided.

Step Four: The Waiting Period

Some states require that a certain period of time pass between the filing of the petition and the final disposition of the case.

Other states require a waiting period before the petition is filed.

Step Five: Temporary Orders

The court may enter temporary orders in an effort to preserve marital property, make sure all the household bills are getting paid, provide for a spouse who may have no source of income, and to provide for the needs of any children.

After your divorce case has been completed, these orders will be dissolved.

Step Six: Discovery Phase

The core of many divorce cases is “discovery.”

The parties are permitted to request and review detailed information from each other about income, assets, custody and any other type of issue that pertains to your case.

If your spouse refuses to provide this information, your divorce lawyer can obtain an order from the court that will require your spouse to disclose all relevant information and order them to pay your lawyer fees.

By the same token, you will be expected to promptly comply with any legitimate discovery requests.

Step Seven “A”: Settlement of the Divorce Case

Most of the time, the court will encourage spouses to settle the case as opposed to going to trial.

Although your divorce lawyer will recommend the possibility of a settlement, the final decision is up to you.

Step Seven “B”: Taking the Divorce to Trial

The court will schedule a trial date if you and your spouse do not agree on a settlement. Most people don’t take their divorce case to trial.

Your attorneys will be able to call witnesses, and you’ll have the opportunity to testify.

Your lawyer will also have the opportunity to cross-examine your spouse and any witnesses called by the opposing party. Normally, divorce cases are not tried before a jury but rather before a judge.

After the trial, the judge will give a final decree resolving concerns in the case like property distribution, alimony, child support and custody, visitation and attorney fees.

However, your trial is not always the conclusion of your case. The losing party has the right to appeal the decree that was made by the judge.

Alternatives to Trial

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has become a very accepted and popular alternative to trial in recent years.

There are several forms of ADR that are basically non-trial procedures where the parties seek the services of a neutral third party to help them resolve their case without a trail.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Today

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