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Celebrity Divorce

What is the Process for Filing for Divorce?

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By Liz B. Gatsby
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What is the process for filing for divorce

The process for filing for divorce can vary. There are different waiting periods, grounds for divorce and other requirements depending on where you live.

If you and your spouse can settle the issues of custody, support and property division, you might be able to file for uncontested divorce. This process is usually quicker and less costly than a contested divorce.

Filing

The process for filing for divorce may vary depending on the type of case you are trying to file, where you live and whether you have children. Wading through pages of statutes and procedural rules can be confusing, but there are plenty of resources online that can help you get started on the right foot.

The first step is to file a complaint (also called a petition) for divorce. This will tell the judge what you want from the divorce, including assets and debts, child custody and spousal support.

Your spouse will then have a set amount of time to respond to your petition for divorce. If they don’t, you can petition the court for a default judgment and ask that it award you everything you asked for.

Once the judge awards you everything that you requested, your marriage is over. However, before the judge finalizes the case and issues an order, it will make sure that your requests are in your children’s best interests.

Service

The process of filing for divorce includes giving court papers to the other party (or person who is the defendant in your case) according to the rules of the court. Often, this is done through the mail.

Service of the divorce petition, summons, and complaint is a very important part of the filing process. The details of the divorce, including the date and reason for the marriage breakup, need to be conveyed to the respondent in a timely manner.

A ‘disinterested person,’ typically a friend or family member who is at least 18 years old, must hand-deliver the petition and any other documents to the respondent. Ideally, the responding spouse will sign an acknowledgement of receipt form that can be filed as proof of service.

However, if your spouse refuses to sign this form, you will need to serve them differently. There are several ways to do this and you should discuss your options with an experienced divorce attorney before you proceed.

Discovery

Discovery is a crucial part of the divorce process, whether you are filing for a simple uncontested divorce or one that goes to trial. It allows you to gather all of the documents and data necessary for your case, and it is a great way to share that information with your lawyer.

Depending on the nature of your divorce, you will need to go through a variety of forms of discovery, including written questions known as interrogatories and requests for production of documents. You will need to respond to these in a timely manner, otherwise you could be penalized.

A divorce attorney can help you determine which types of discovery will be best for your situation. They will also work with you to ensure that all of your answers to the discovery requests are correct.

Discovery in divorce cases usually includes interrogatories, requests for documents, inspections of property and interviews with witnesses and experts. If you have a complex case, you may need to follow a formal discovery control plan, such as Level 1, 2 or 3. Each type has its own prescribed format, deadline and requirements.

Trial

If you and your spouse are unable to resolve all of your divorce issues through mediation or other negotiations, you will need to go to trial. This is when a judge will decide your case, based on the law and your evidence.

The court will consider a number of details in deciding contested issues, such as child custody and financial support. A judge will also take into account state laws governing these issues when making decisions.

In most cases, the process of filing for divorce takes at least 60 days (including weekends and holidays). You must begin the waiting period by completing service of the paperwork on your spouse. This can be done by delivering the documents to them personally or hiring a private process server.

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