The divorce process is one that can be time consuming and complicated for people who have never gone through it before. However, a divorce is made worse when you don’t know what to expect from it. Therefore, it is beneficial for people considering getting a divorce to have an idea of how the general divorce legal process works. The divorce timeline entails numerous steps that are basically the same no matter which state you live in. However, the process might vary slightly from state to state since different states have different guidelines.
The spouse who wants to get the divorce gets a lawyer and draws up a complaint first. If both spouses agree to get a divorce, then either spouse may initiate the complaint. Basically, the petition for divorce states why the couple wants to get divorced. In most state, the reason for divorce can simply be stated as “irreconcilable differences.” Also included in the petition for divorce is the proposal of how the petitioner wants to settle financial issues, custody issues and other separation issues. Once the lawyer and the petitioner draw up the petition for divorce, then it must be officially filed with the court.
Once the petition for divorce is filed, then the other spouse must be served with documentation stating the petitioner’s intent for divorce. Along with that documentation, the other spouse is also issued a summons requesting that spouse’s response on the matter. There are various ways that spouses can be served with a copy of the divorce petition. One way is in person, one way is through mail, another is via a lawyer and yet another is by having a law enforcement officer serve it to the other spouse. Once the petitioner has served the other spouse with the petition and summons, then the other spouse is expected to provide an answer to the petition. The spouse may agree to the petition or dispute it. If the served party disagrees with the petition, he or she can provide an answer indicating how he or she would prefer to deal with the matter. Most states give spouses a few weeks to answer a summons. If no answer is received within the allotted time frame, then the court assumes that the spouse agrees with the terms laid forth in the petition.
Documents pertaining to a couple’s property and income generally must be provided to help them and the court decide the best manner in which to divide up their assets. In some cases, couples might be able to come to an amicable decision on how to divide up their assets. However, in other cases, the court might have to intervene to allot certain assets to each spouse when spouses cannot come to a mutual agreement. This is especially the case when it comes to custody of any minor children that couples have together. If couples can come to an agreement through a mediation process, then all they have to do is show a copy of their settlement agreement to a judge at an informal hearing. However, if they cannot come to an agreement, then the case will go to trial at a formal hearing, during which time a judge will hear both sides of the argument and decide how to settle any disputes among couples. During a trial, each spouse’s attorney presents evidence and arguments as to why their clients should retain possession of certain assets, custody of children and other types of unresolved issues. Once the presiding judge reaches a decision concerning the issues, then he or she grants the divorce.
Either spouse may appeal a judge’s decision if he or she doesn’t agree with it. However, it is unusual for an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision. Additionally, if both spouses came to a mutual agreement during a settlement mediation and stated their agreement before a judge who them granted their divorce, then the decision cannot be appealed.
The amount of time that it takes for the entire divorce process to be complete depends upon your individual case and the state that you live in. However, generally, the more you and your ex can cooperate, the faster the process will tend to go.