If you are considering filing for divorce you need to understand the basics of how the divorce process works. First, a word of advice, keep in mind the divorce process is both emotionally and financially draining and many people find it difficult to be clear headed in the face of a divorce. Divorce is a process, not a one-time event and sometimes highly contested divorces can take many months until they have been finalized. Some can take years.
Notwithstanding, there are some issues that should be handled as quickly as possible. Making sure the children are both emotionally and physically safe should be your number one priority. This means they have a roof over their head and that they do not feel their life is being torn apart by the divorce. In this regard, child counseling is strongly recommended even if your children appear to be taking the divorce well.
In making important legal decisions about your case, try not to be led by your emotions. While it is a very emotional time, you need to know that the decisions you make now will impact the lives of both you and your loved ones for years to come.
Filing for divorce will immediately and necessarily bring you face-to-face with some very challenging legal and financial issues such as property division, child custody, child support and spousal support. To resolve these issues and others, your divorce lawyer may need to hire experts to determine the value of your major assets such as your home and stock portfolio. With respect to child custody, sometimes a court will permit an independent child-custody evaluation, which will help inform the courts determination concerning child custody and visitation.
There are also issues you may not have considered such as whether there are any tax consequences regarding the sale of community property. There may also be tax issues relating to the award of alimony or maintenance payments. You may want to know whether your spouse has a right to a portion of your pension.
Issues decided in a divorce case are usually finalized in what is called a marriage settlement agreement. The settlement agreement then becomes the official order of the court, called a divorce decree and the parties must fully comply with its terms of the divorce decree or risk being held in contempt of court. If the parties were unable to reach a settlement, a court will need to make the important decisions about your life and your children, on its own. This is one reason why divorce mediation is gaining such popularity. In a mediated divorce, the parties work to settle their differences among themselves rather then have their destiny decided by a stranger with a black robe and a gavel.
With all of these issues swirling around it is advised that even before you have your first substantive meeting with your lawyer, you get prepared by gathering all legal documents such as birth certificates of yourself and your children, marriage license, any immigration or naturalization documents, and any written agreements that you may have made with your spouse. This might include a prenuptial agreement. You should also prepare a list of all real and personal property that you and your spouse jointly own. Include the numbers on credit cards, bank accounts, stock brokerage accounts, insurance policies, social security account and the like. This will make your lawyer's job easier and will save you time and money in the long run.
Here is how the divorce proceeding usually begins. The divorce attorney for the party bringing the divorce action usually prepares a petition for divorce (sometimes called a "complaint") that states the basic facts and legal reasons the spouse or spouses are seeking divorce.
Some states have their own forms that they require you to use. Generally, whether or not a state has a required form, you will likely have to include in your petition for divorce the full names of the parties, the length of time you have resided in the state, the date and place of marriage, the date of separation the names and birth dates of your children, and the grounds for divorce. The delivery of the petition or legal complaint on your spouse is called service of process and it ensures that your spouse is formally notified of the divorce action.
Finally, once all the paperwork has been put together and your case is ready to move forward, try to separate your emotions from the litigation process. Divorces are often messy. People get emotional and children and loved ones get hurt. Your goal should be one of resolution and if you entered the divorce process with integrity and honesty, you will have accomplished a great deal, including being able to move on with your life once the legal process is over.
To learn more about spousal support, divorce law and property division visit GotTrouble.com