Maybe you’re thinking about asking your spouse for a divorce? Maybe your spouse has already asked you for a divorce? Perhaps you’re just curious about the divorce process?
In any case, you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’re going to tell you exactly what happens in a divorce. That way, you can be prepared in the event that you have to go through one.
A Preliminary Discussion is Had Between the Spouses
Ideally, the event that will spark the divorce process is a preliminary discussion between the spouses. One spouse will go to the other and inform him or her of his or her desire for a divorce.
This should be a relatively informal discussion in which the two parties talk over their grievances and let each other know exactly where they stand. In some cases, this discussion will help the two parties decide that they don’t, in fact, want a divorce. In most cases, however, the opposite will occur, and the divorce process will have begun.
Note, you don’t have to have this discussion. In fact, if you have an abusive partner, you’re advised to avoid it entirely. But if you have a relatively respectable relationship with your partner, this is a great courtesy to extend.
A Divorce Petition is Presented
Once the preliminary discussion is had, and it’s decided that a divorce is the right course of action, a divorce petition must be presented. This is a document that outlines the specifics of the divorce, and which must be signed by both parties.
If the divorce is amicable, one spouse can simply bring this document to his or her spouse and have the spouse sign it. If the divorce isn’t amicable, and if one spouse is trying to avoid receiving these papers, it might become necessary to hire a process server. The process server will go to lengths to locate the individual in question, and then will personally provide that individual with the divorce documentation.
Once received, the receiving spouse can either sign the petition, leave the petition unsigned, or respond to the petition. We’ll cover the specifics of each circumstance below.
If the Petition is Signed
If the receiving spouse signs the divorce petition, the divorce waiting period will begin. During this period (which usually lasts between 30 and 90 days), neither spouse can make unilateral decisions about children, real estate, bank accounts, or other pertinent matters. If a spouse does make such a decision during this waiting period, he or she could face punishment by the courts.
If the Petition is Left Unsigned
Maybe the receiving spouse decides that he or she doesn’t want to sign the petition? Maybe he or she just doesn’t get around to it? Does that mean that the divorce can’t go through?
Not at all. Note, though, that the exact consequences will depend on the state in which the divorce is occurring.
In some states, if the petition isn’t signed, it will eventually be considered an uncontested divorce. In this situation, you can simply inform the courts, show up for a court hearing, and finalize the proceedings.
In other states, you’ll have to file a default with the courts. This is a document stating that the receiving spouse won’t sign the petition and that you’re ready to end the marriage.
Again, you’ll have to show to court but, in most circumstances, the terms of the divorce petition will be honored. The non-signing individual will generally get no say as to how assets are divided or as to how the children’s living situations are decided.
As such, if you receive a divorce petition, you’re advised to either sign it or respond to it.
If the Receiving Spouse Responds to the Petition
The last option is for the receiving spouse to respond to the petition. This occurs when the receiving spouse disagrees with terms laid out within the petition. He or she has the legal ability to challenge these terms in a court of law.
As such, if the receiving spouse responds, there will be a court hearing. During this hearing, both spouses will argue (hopefully with the help of seasoned divorce lawyers) on how they’ll split assets, how they’ll divvy up time with their children, and all other relevant issues.
Note, if this occurs, the divorce process can drag out substantially. In some cases, the proceedings will span over a year and more. So, whether you get along with your spouse or not, be prepared for a battle.
Find out how dividing marriage assets works by reading the article in the fore-posted link.
The Final Judgement is Handed Out
Once the petition has been filed and the court hearings have proceeded, the courts will hand out a final judgment. This judgment will dictate who gets what and will also layout terms on other relevant entities within the partnership.
In most cases, this will signal the end of the divorce process. You can move on with your life, get married, buy real estate that belongs to you, and do essentially whatever else you want to do. You’ll no longer be restricted by legal shackles.
Note, however, that it is possible for one of the spouses to file an appeal contesting the court decision. This generally has to happen within 30 days of the decision being handed out, and, if it does happen, it will halt the proceedings even further.
From that point, you just repeat the process as needed, showing up in court when necessary and speaking with your lawyer on a regular basis. Eventually, a final agreement will be struck, and you’ll be free to move on.
And That’s What Happens in a Divorce
And there it is, that’s what happens in a divorce. Yes, the process can be arduous. But if it’s really time to call it quits, it will be well worth the pain.
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