The 4 Main Steps Of A Divorce

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Going through a divorce is not easy, and you might be confused as to how the process works. Meeting with a divorce attorney is a great way to find answers to questions, and he or she is likely to explain the following steps. If you want your divorce to go as fast as possible, your attorney may give you tips to help speed up each of these steps.

File The Papers

One of the spouses must file the divorce paperwork to get the process started. From there, the divorce could take several months to several years to actually finalize. Most states have rules relating to waiting periods, and these are designed to give couples time to reconcile. A waiting period simply means that you must wait for a period of time before the divorce can finalize. Some states do not have waiting periods, but others require waiting periods of six months or longer. 

During this waiting period, you can work through other steps of the divorce, though. By doing this, your divorce will be faster. Once you or your spouse files the paperwork, the waiting period will begin, and the other spouse will receive the documents.

Attend A Preliminary Hearing

The second main step in a divorce involves a court hearing, typically called a preliminary hearing. This hearing is designed to make sure both parties are aware of the divorce proceedings, and it is also designed to make temporary arrangements for the separation period. Before you attend this hearing, you should meet with your divorce attorney to discuss the issues that should be settled at the hearing. This should include the following issues:

  • Which spouse will get to stay living in the house
  • Who will have custody of the children
  • How visitation will work
  • The amount of child support and/or alimony to be paid
  • How the bills will be divided
  • Rules relating to racking up debt

The preliminary hearing is typically considered an urgent matter and will usually take place within 30 days of the divorce filing. Whatever is decided at this hearing will be recorded on a document and both spouses will receive a copy. Both spouses will be required to follow the instructions on the document until the divorce is final.

Settle The Matters

You may be happy with the arrangement agreed upon during the preliminary hearing; however, this typically does not cover every detail of the divorce. In addition, things can change from what the judge instructs at the preliminary hearing to the final divorce decree. After you have attended the initial hearing, you should plan on meeting with your divorce attorney several times to discuss your hopes and desires for the divorce. This may include discussing in detail the issues listed above, but there may be additional issues to discuss, such as selling the home you jointly own.

Your divorce lawyer will communicate with your spouse's lawyer to make agreements on each issue. If you can reach mutual agreements on every issue, your divorce will most likely finalize faster. If you cannot reach agreements, the divorce may linger for months or years.

Attend The Final Hearing

As soon as you have completed the waiting period and have made agreements on all the issues, your lawyer can schedule the final hearing. During this hearing, the judge will read off the agreements you have made. As long as everything is correct, the judge will agree to it and pronounce you divorced. If there are issues you cannot agree on, the judge has the authority to make the final agreements for you, and these will be binding.

Getting divorced takes time, effort, and money, but you can speed up the process by working through these steps quickly. If you have any questions about divorces, contact a local divorce attorney from a firm like Madison Law Firm PLLC