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Divorce in 2022: a Quick Reference!
You didn’t get married with the intention of getting a divorce, but it may turn out that way. The good news is that not all divorces have to be drawn out and contentious and that legal counsel isn’t always necessary. The steps necessary to initiate divorce are outlined here.
How to File for Divorce in Your State
You can receive divorce forms for your state either online or at the courts. There’s also the option of hiring a lawyer to handle the paperwork on your behalf. To file for divorce in your state, you must use the appropriate forms.
For a divorce to be finalized, a petition or complaint must be filed and then served on the other spouse. This document serves as a petition for dissolution of marriage and makes forth the petitioner’s requests for the divorce, including those related to property and debt distribution, spousal support, and parental responsibilities.
The petition or complaint can be answered by both you and your spouse. So that both parties are operating from the same set of facts, they can use discovery to get documents (such as bank statements) from one another. There are certain jurisdictions that mandate mediation or at least settlement conferences with court officials.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach a divorce settlement, you will need to go to court so the judge can hear your case. Divorce trials might last many days or weeks if there are a lot of assets at stake or child custody disputes.
Not every divorce needs to be complicated, and you don’t always need an attorney to represent you. #ForbesAdvisor shares the basics to file for divorce. https://t.co/KF5dLmUgOe
— Forbes Advisor (@ForbesAdvisor) August 31, 2022
What are the Requirements for a Divorce Filing
Divorce petitions need not be filed in the state where the couple got married. Instead, you need to be a legal resident of the state where your divorce will be processed. Generally speaking, you need to have lived in the state for at least three months prior to filing, but this varies from state to state so be sure to verify the specifics of the law in your area. Divorce papers can be filed in whichever state you like, even if one spouse lives elsewhere.
After submitting a divorce petition, the divorce process does not end instantly. In fact, the state may demand a waiting time before you can finalize the divorce even if both parties agree on all terms. One state with a lengthy waiting period is California, where it’s a full six months before you may apply. In Texas, the waiting period is only 60 days.
For families with young children, the waiting period may be lengthier in some jurisdictions. The purpose of the waiting period is to give the couple time to calm down and decide if they really want a divorce before trying to negotiate a settlement.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce refer to the specific reasons for filing for divorce. All states have no-fault divorce, which means neither spouse is blamed. However, most jurisdictions also recognize divorce for reasons like adultery, imprisonment, desertion, legal separation, or cruel and inhuman treatment. If you cite a reason other than “no culpability,” evidence is required.
Do I Need an Attorney to File for Divorce?
The hiring of legal counsel to file for divorce is optional. However, a skilled family law attorney who knows how to navigate the system and make compelling arguments to persuade the judge to make the best conclusion is frequently necessary for complex divorces with many assets, debts, and custody concerns.
Some couples that agree on all the divorce terms can utilize one attorney to file all the forms if they don’t want the burden of dealing with the courts and documentation on their own. Every settlement should be reviewed by an attorney before it is finalized and submitted to the court.
The self-help station inside the courthouse is a valuable resource for the many people who file for divorce without hiring an attorney. Keep in mind that self-help centers are just available to help you fill out the right paperwork and cannot give you legal advice.
Looking For An Online Divorce Solution?
With the advent of 3StepDivorce, getting a divorce no longer poses a significant obstacle. There are only three simple procedures required to finalize a divorce on the internet.
How to Start a Divorce
- Family court cover sheet. The document details your family’s demographics, from children and spouse to ages and addresses. Whoever files the form is known as the “plaintiff” or “petitioner,” while the “defendant” or “respondent” is the other spouse.
- Complaint for divorce. This legal document, which may also be termed a “Petition for Divorce,” explains to the judge your desired outcomes for the divorce, such as division of property, alimony, child support, and custody.
- Summons. This is the document that is filed with the court and then served on your spouse together with the other divorce paperwork. They just have 21 days to react (give or take depending on the laws in your state).
Forms are submitted to the court clerk, who then affixes a date stamp and records the information in the official court record.
Serving Your Spouse
Although most couples have discussed the possibility of divorce prior to filing a petition, this is not necessary. Regardless of whether or not you have discussed divorce with your spouse, the law requires you to inform them of the pending court petition. Service of process upon your spouse is required in order to file a lawsuit against them.
A professional process server will typically deliver the paperwork to your spouse and then file the appropriate paperwork on your behalf. If you know someone who is familiar with the state’s regulations, you can have them serve the papers, or you can engage a professional process server for $30 to $100.
Service by mail is permissible in some jurisdictions, including Hawaii. Before serving your spouse, it’s a good idea to research the laws in your state.
Filing the Response Papers
Divorce papers will be served to anyone who isn’t the plaintiff. You must respond or file an answer within the specified time frame. You should verify the deadline for filing a response with the court clerk in your jurisdiction; in most jurisdictions, this is 21 days from the date of service. This information will most likely be included in the paperwork you get.
Your answer papers will outline your points of agreement and disagreement with the petition or complaint. It’s possible that you and your partner have different ideas about how to share property and child custody. You can buy yourself some time to figure out your options by simply saying you’re going to fight your spouse for whatever they’re asking for.
Multiple copies of your answer should be made. One copy is filed with the court clerk, one is given to the other party, and one is kept by you.
Uncontested and Contested Divorce Filings
During an uncontested divorce, neither party disputes the other’s requests made in the petition or complaint. If you and your spouse have negotiated a settlement that is included in the petition or complaint, then you are effectively giving your spouse what they are asking for. If the divorce is not disputed, the waiting period may be shorter in some states. In Hawaii, for instance, there will be no such requirement, which will speed up the divorce procedure.
When the defendant or respondent fails to respond within the allotted time frame, the divorce is considered to have been finalized without any contested issues. Without them, the trial must go on.
A trial will be held when the court will hear arguments from both parties in a contested divorce and make a judgment. You should specify your goals and present evidence to back your assertions that could sway the judge’s decision. For instance, if you desire primary custody and your spouse has a history of drug usage, having documentation of their drug use, rehabilitation, and arrests will strengthen your case.
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