Going through a divorce and determining the exact steps can be a confusing process with all of the different routes a divorce can take. This can be based on the relationship of the parties (i.e. whether they are on good terms or hostile toward one another), whether children are involved, and the length of the marriage among other factors. While each family has its own, unique issues, generally speaking, the steps in a divorce are as follows:
1. File Petition with Summons and, if there are children of the marriage, a Declaration Under UCCJEA;
2. If temporary orders are needed related to child custody or support, file a Request for Order;
3. Serve spouse with filed papers;
4. Wait 30 days for spouse to file response;
5. If spouse filed a response, both parties need to prepare and serve financial disclosures on the other party and file a Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration. If spouse does not file a response, the Petitioner (i.e. the party who initiated the divorce process) still needs to prepare and serve the financial disclosures and file the Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration.
6. The next step depends on whether the Respondent (i.e. the party who did not initiate the divorce process) responds and whether the divorce is amicable or not.
(a) If the Respondent files and serves a response and the parties are in agreement, or close to an agreement on how to proceed in the division of assets and debts, child custody, and support, they can use a mediator to prepare and file the divorce judgment; OR
(b) If the Respondent files and serves a response, the parties can work out an agreement among themselves and prepare and file a divorce judgment on their own; OR
(c) If the Respondent never responded to the divorce petition, and the parties are on good terms and participating in the divorce together, they can prepare and file the divorce judgment along with an optional Marital Settlement Agreement; OR
(d) If the Respondent never responded to the divorce petition, and the parties are not on speaking terms, the Petitioner can file a Request to Enter Default; OR
(e) If the Respondent filed a response and the parties can not agree on some or all of the issues, they can negotiate outside of court and file the divorce judgment or litigate the issues in front of a judge.
7. The divorce is finalized 6 months from the date of service of the petition and summons or the date of the appearance of the Respondent, whichever occurs first.
While knowing the exact steps in a divorce is helpful and can offer some peace of mind, it can also be very helpful to talk with an attorney to determine what action is best for you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling, emailing, messaging, or using the calendly link below!