The divorce rate is about 50% in the United States, and the divorce industry is growing rapidly. If you find yourself filing for divorce, you are not alone. This can be a complicated situation, especially when you have to deal with the legal system as well as emotional and personal matters.
Maybe you’ve tried marriage counseling or other conflict resolution strategies that didn’t work, but that’s okay. If you now find yourself considering a legal divorce, you may be confused about the legal process and wondering if you need a divorce lawyer. Keep reading for details about the divorce process and how it works.
Filing for Divorce
If you decide you are ready for divorce, the first step is that one spouse must file a legal petition. This petition must include a legal reason for the divorce, which will determine whether you file an at-fault or no-fault divorce. At-fault reasons include abuse, adultery, mental illness, and other reasons, while no-fault can be incompatibility or irresolvable differences.
You should file the petition with a state court in the county where you live. Then the other spouse must acknowledge receipt of the petition. This only requires a signature, but if your spouse is hard to track down, you may need legal assistance for this step.
After this step, legal restrictions are placed on both parties if they have children together. They are not permitted to take the children out of state without permission from the other parent or buy or sell property.
The other spouse can then file a response to the petition stating their agreement with it if this is the case. Although not necessary, this will expedite the legal process and likely prevent the case from requiring a court hearing.
Once the legal process has been initiated, both spouses will have to provide information about their employment, assets, etc. If you don’t already have a divorce lawyer, you will want to get one at this stage. At this time you will enter into a negotiation stage with your spouse.
At this point, you will attend mediation sessions to try and come to an agreement on property and asset division, support, and custody rights. It is best to try to reach an agreement at this stage so that you do not have to go to court.
Potential Trial and Finalization
If negotiations fail, you must go to trial. However, it is usually in your best interest to avoid this, as trials can be expensive, long, and emotionally draining. If necessary, this trial usually takes place in front of a judge instead of a jury.
Finally, the divorce is official when a judge signs an order known as the dissolution of marriage, which contains the terms of the divorce. These will either be dictated by the judge or if the spouses reached an agreement, can be drafted by one of their attorneys.
Final Thoughts on the Divorce Process
Hopefully, this guide has allowed you to gain a clearer picture of the divorce process and the steps you need to take. Remember to find a reputable lawyer who has your best interests at heart and will represent you well throughout the process.
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