How do I file for a divorce?

A divorce decree legally ends your marriage. The process begins by completing and filing the appropriate paperwork with the court. State laws regulate divorce, so it is necessary to check for your local requirements. A complaint or petition is a legal document that is filed with the court to begin the divorce process. Next, your spouse is notified that you have filed for divorce. After that, the court begins the process of ending the marriage. There is usually a period of waiting time before the divorce can be finalized, although some states do not require a wait. Various factors are involved in the divorce process. Significant issues of contention can exist in divorce situations, such as division of property and oversight of the children. An attorney can help to protect your rights and best interests.

How long does a divorce take?

Since divorce laws vary by state, the amount of time required to end a marriage can differ depending on your geographical location. Most states require you to be a resident for a minimum length of time before you can file for divorce there. Plus, the proceedings themselves can also vary in length. Uncontested divorces are typically the fastest option. When divorces are contentious and involve complicated marital estates or child custody matters, they can go on for years. After an actual ruling is made on the divorce, there is usually a final waiting period of up to six months.

Can I get a divorce without going to court?

In most places, married partners can divorce without going to court. Mediation and collaborative divorce are viable options for partners who can agree and settle their issues outside of court. In mediation, a neutral third party helps the divorcing couple resolve any disputed matters. The mediator can provide some unbiased perspective to the spouses on how a court might rule on the disputed issues. A mediator can also help the divorcing couple draft a divorce settlement agreement.

Additionally, if your divorce is uncontested, and you do not have children or substantial assets, an appearance in court may not be necessary. In a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to prove wrongdoing by either spouse to get a divorce or dissolution of marriage. If the spouse seeking divorce tells the court that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” there is nothing the other spouse can do to stop it.

How much does a divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce can differ substantially across states and individual cases. Cost often depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, how many matters must be settled, and the length of time the divorce process takes. Seeking the assistance of legal counsel can add to the costs. However, attempting to handle the legalities yourself could cause mistakes that are even more costly and challenging to correct in the long run. 

Additionally, a lawyer may be able to help you find alternative dispute resolution strategies that can help you and your soon-to-be-ex resolve your contested issues more efficiently and effectively, resulting in lower costs. For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs, contact an attorney with knowledge and experience in divorce law.