What To Expect From The Divorce Process
Most folks don't have a lot of experience with the divorce process. If you're looking to terminate a marriage, it's a good idea to know what to expect. A divorce attorney will ask you to understand these 5 basic things.
Someone Sues Someone
One of the two marital partners has to sue the other. This applies even if both agree they want to divorce and handle the process amicably. One of the two will have to file a lawsuit so the family court can officially end the marriage. If you don't do this bit, it can negatively affect taxes, finances, credit, and even trying to remarry.
Legal Disinterest in Fault
For all practical purposes, no-fault divorce is the law of the land over the U.S. Some states still have at-fault divorce on the books, but it is effectively moot.
The main implication is that a judge and even your divorce lawyer will have zero interest in discussions about who did what wrong. For legal purposes, the court doesn't care who cheated or committed abuses.
In a no-fault system, the court only cares that one person says they want the marriage over. They must sue and claim irreconcilable differences. Some states require cooling-off periods to make sure the petitioner is serious, but even those will grant the divorce after that period has passed.
Overlaps with Family Law
Divorce proceedings are inherently family court issues. If you have a child, you will have to handle adjacent family law concerns like child support and custody. However, these issues are legally separate from divorce. The custody and support agreements will be separate documents for this reason. Only spousal support will fit within the divorce paperwork.
Dividing Assets and Debts
Marriage often leads people to jointly acquire property. You must divide all marital property between the two parties. Bear in mind not all property is inherently marital property. Your state will have its rules so it's best to consult with a divorce attorney and learn them. Also, never overlook the issue of debt. Just as you have marital property, there are also joint liabilities.
Negotiations and Conferences
Very few divorces lead to trials. You should assume you and your divorce lawyer will be negotiating a settlement.
Even if there are serious enough disputes to involve the court, don't expect a judge to order a trial. They may have a court-appointed officer conduct a conference with the two parties. If the problem is bad enough to justify a hearing, the judge will likely hold a session, hear arguments, and then rule.
For more information on the divorce process, contact a firm like Reisinger Booth & Associates.