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What is the divorce process?

Getting divorced can be overwhelming. There is, of course, the emotional turmoil that one may feel as a result of the circumstances, as well as the daunting feelings that may be associated with starting a new life as a single person. In addition, divorcing parties have to contend with multiple legal issues that can result in heated disputes, the outcomes of which could shape their lives for years to come. These matters include child custody, child support, alimony and property division. But many may find themselves wondering how the divorce process will play out. We hope this post will help them better understand the divorce timeline.

The divorce process is initiated when one party files a petition stating why he or she is seeking marriage dissolution and how he or she feels financial matters should be settled. Once that petition is served, or given, to the other spouse, that spouse must file a response. This answer must be filed within a certain timeframe, which is critical, as failing to do so could indicate to the court that he or she agrees with the initial petition. The answer should state whether the spouse agrees with the petition and how it proposes to settle matters.

Once this has been completed and an agreement is not reached, then the parties must exchange documentation regarding property and income. These documents will spur the negotiation process where alimony, child support and property division may be addressed. If a settlement is reached, then it is submitted to the court, which may or may not accept it.

If a settlement agreement is not accepted by the court, or the couple cannot come to an agreement, then the matter will have to go to trial. Evidence will be presented and testimony heard, and the judge will make a final determination.

Every step of the divorce process can present complications. For this reason, it is often helpful to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney on one's side who will help to ensure they are being treated fairly throughout.

Source: FindLaw, "A Divorce Timeline," accessed on Dec. 5, 2015

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