How to Start the Process of Divorce

Process of Divorce

Divorce law varies from state to state. Starting the divorce process largely depends on what state you live in and the law in that state. For example, according to New York law, the defendant must be served within 120 days (about four months) after a plaintiff files for divorce. Here is general information about how to start the divorce process, no matter where you live.

1. Have a Plan

You do not want to make impulsive decisions about divorce. You must have a plan. Ideally, the best route is to speak with a lawyer before you file anything. If you have children, jointly owned property, or are in business together, you absolutely should speak with a divorce lawyer.

According to NOLO, noncustodial parents spend about 88 days (about 3 months) a year with their children. Having a divorce lawyer on your side can help you get a custody agreement that better fits your wants. Before you start the divorce process, you must have a plan in place.

A lawyer can help you navigate the process and ensure your rights are protected. A lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and file all the necessary documents with the court. They will know what requirements you must adhere to. Get professional help to navigate the process.

2. File for Divorce

Under the law, marriage is a contract. To break a contract, you need to file with the courts. The first step in any divorce proceeding is filing for divorce. Again, the law may vary for your locality, but every divorce proceeding requires an initial filing. Once you have filed your divorce papers, your spouse must be served.

In some states, there is a waiting period. The spouses cannot live under the same roof during that waiting period. For example, in North Carolina, spouses must live apart for one year before a divorce is granted. If the spouses move back in together at any point during that year, the divorce proceeding is null and void.

In other states, like Nevada, the waiting period between filing for divorce and a final divorce decree is much shorter. You must understand the laws of your state. According to Clio, finding a lawyer is easy because there are over 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. If you are unfamiliar with the divorce law in your state, a lawyer should be consulted.

3. Start Negotiations

Many states require that divorcing couples enlist the help of a professional arbitrator to negotiate the divorce settlement before they go to court. Your state may require that you attend arbitration. Arbitration can be a quick and easy way to get through the divorce process.

Arbitration can help settle things like property division, child custody and support, and other areas of your divorce. A professional arbitrator doesn’t give advice or take sides; their sole purpose is to ensure that the dialogue between a divorcing couple stays focused and provides solutions. It can be a great way to come to a resolution everyone can live with.

Of course, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can’t come to an agreement in arbitration, a trial will be necessary. A divorce trial can get messy. It is held in a public forum where a lot of dirty laundry can be aired. Divorce trials can increase the time it takes to get divorced.

4. Final Decree

The final step in the divorce process is a final decree from a judge. The final decree will have all the things that you and your spouse agreed to in the arbitration listed (or that was found during the trial). This document is very important. It dissolves your marital contract and has a court order outlining each spouse’s responsibilities after the dissolution.

Divorce is never easy. You must deal with the law, your spouse, and many other things. You must have representation. Get the support you need to manage your divorce from start to finish.