How to File for a Divorce

When a marriage becomes unhealthy for both people involved, the strong emotions involved often make the divorce process complicated. If you have found yourself needing to figure out how to file for a divorce, keep these simple steps in mind.

One of the first steps in how to file for a divorce, no matter what state you are in, is to file an “Original Petition for Divorce”, usually with your local county court clerk. This petition contains the names of the petitioner (the one seeking the divorce), as well as the respondent (the spouse), and a statement of the primary reasons for seeking a divorce. It would also include the names of any minor children, as well property, possessions, and/or income and savings that the petitioner feels should be included. Sometimes specifics about child custody, alimony,and division of property are included in the original petition.

The respondent receives notification of the petition,and has 30 days to reply and/or hire a lawyer to represent their interests. During this time, things like restraining orders, temporary child custody and support payments,etc… get put into place by the courts to protect all parties while the divorce process continues. Temporary orders for support as well as parental time with children are legally enforceable, and not following temporary orders during this time can result in charges being filed for contempt of court.

The next step of how to file for a divorce would be the discovery process. During this step, there are five phases: disclosure, interrogatories, admission of facts, requests for production,and depositions. Both parties disclose their requests of what they want, and each side has 30 days to respond to the list of requests. Then the attorneys have 30 days to ask questions of each others client. From that, a list of written facts about the other party is created, and each party can either admit or deny those facts. Supporting documents (bank statements, pay check stubs, etc…) can be requested, and each has 30 days to supply them. Finally, depositions are taken from questions asked of the opposing spouse, as well as witnesses that support the client’s claims and position, in case the divorce can not be solved outside of open court.

The next, and often final, step in the process is called Divorce Mediation, where a court appointed attorney works with both parties to finalize a divorce settlement both parties agree upon. This settlement then gets signed as the final decree of divorce and completes the divorce process.

If the parties can not reach an agreement, they will go to Divorce court. Both parties’ attorneys present their conflicting positions, as well as evidence to support their arguments,. The judge will examine all of the evidence, and make a decision on how the unresolved issues will be handled. Once the judge makes a decision, the divorce final decree is signed, which specifies how property is to be divided, as well as the specific requirements of child custody, child support, and any alimony payments. In the event that either party is unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, there is an appeals process that they can undertake. However, the final divorce decree will be legally binding until the appeal process is completed.

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