When you decide to pursue a divorce, there are certain legal steps to take throughout the process. Often, the first step for many couples is actually deciding to divorce.
Here’s how to file for divorce after you and your spouse have decided you’re better off separate than together.
Filing the Petition
Either spouse can file the petition to divorce. The petition is essentially a document asking the court for the divorce.
In the petition, you must state a reason for the divorce. It could be a no-fault reason (irreconcilable differences) or fault grounds (adultery). Your attorney can help you decide what reason you should file based on your state and circumstances.
Temporary hearings—also called temporary orders or motions—are important if one spouse relies on the other for support.
These orders can require the other partner to financially support that spouse until the divorce is granted. The same is also true for the spouse who cares for the children or will be seeking custody of the children.
If you filed the petition, it’s important to file temporary orders for spousal support and custody at this time. If you didn’t file the petition, you should ideally seek temporary orders as soon as possible.
Proof of Notification
During this process, you’ll need to provide proof that your spouse has been notified of the petition.
If you both agree to the divorce and your spouse has no objections to what’s specified in the petition, your spouse may simply sign a “Voluntary Appearance” document, which means they agree and are not required to file any further response.
However, if you do not agree, the spouse who received the petition will have approximately 30 days to file a response. If there is any type of disagreement in regards to the petition, this should be detailed in the response.
If your spouse is served the petition but does not file a response, you may be granted everything requested in your petition.
What Happens Next?
After everything is settled—whether in or out of court—an Order of Dissolution ends the marriage and details how your property will be divided as well as custody. You and your spouse may agree on the terms of the divorce outside of court, or a judge may order mediation to help settle any disputes.
An experienced and professional attorney can guide you through this process to make filing for your divorce easier and less stressful. From the petition all the way to the Order of Dissolution, having an ally by your side helps ensure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible!