Before you begin the divorce process, you should understand the steps you will need to take. While a divorce can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on each couple’s situation and how contentious the process gets, there are general steps involved in all divorces.
Beginning the process
Once the decision to end the marriage has been made, one of the spouses begins the process by drafting a divorce petition or complaint that states why the person wants a divorce and presents that spouse’s plan for settling divorce issues. This petition is then filed with the court and served, or presented, to the other spouse with a summons or demand for that spouse’s response within a specified timeframe. The spouse that was served then either responds on whether they agree or not and how they want to proceed with the divorce. If that spouse does not respond, the court assumes that the spouse agrees with the details of the petition.
Settling the issues
This part of the divorce process can go relatively quickly if the couple is on amicable terms, can communicate effectively and collaborate on solutions. However, if the couple is unable to communicate well or if the case ends up as a court battle, this part of the process can take a very long time and become very expensive. The steps during this part of the process include:
• Gathering all financial documents
• Beginning negotiations for the division of property
• Participating in the mediation process
• Getting court approval for the divorce settlement negotiated during mediation
• Beginning a court trial if the mediation was not successful
• Appealing the judge’s decision to a higher court
Once all the issues of the divorce are settled, whether during mediation or at court, and the judge approves the settlement, the judge will officially grant the divorce and the couple will sign it. This then becomes the divorce decree.