Q: This is all new to me. It’s my first time going through a divorce. What’s the process?
A: There is no easy answer to this question because of a number of variables. First, do both parties want the divorce? Are there children involved? Are both parties in agreement on how to divide the family assets? Will you be going to court or will you seek resolution through mediation?
File A Petition
Your first step will be to file a petition with the court. The petition will include grounds for divorce. Most states have a no-fault divorce but some have other provisions. Your attorney can help you with regard to this issue in your state.
The court will become involved in the custody matters and temporary financial arrangements in the event that one parent is a stay at home mom or dad.
Service of Process and Response
The filing party needs to acquire proof that the divorce petition was given to the other party. If “fault” grounds were being sought, the other party is permitted to dispute the grounds.
If there is a lack of agreement, the issues must move to negotiation. In addition to custody and visitation rights efforts must be made to come to agreement as regards equitable division of assets.
Anything the couple cannot resolve outside of court will require going to trial, which adds expense and time to the process.
Order of Dissolution
After everything has been decided the divorcing will draft an Order of Dissolution which spells out how property, debts, custody, support and other issues will be handled. This document will be submitted to the court. The judge will approve or the court will issue its own order at the end of the trial.