It is always a good idea to educate yourself about the laws and related legal processes that govern the process of divorce before you sign any papers. You don’t have to take classes or become a lawyer to understand your divorce, but understanding the basics of the process can help reduce some of the mental and emotional strain involved if you know what to expect in advance.
Unlike a Las Vegas wedding, people cannot just stop in for a quick divorce in Las Vegas or any other town in the United States. You will have to meet the requirements of your state and county jurisdiction before you can even file papers. First of all, you need to understand that you do not need to get divorced in the state where you got married. You must get divorced in the state you currently reside in.
In most states, you will be required to live in a specific area for a specific length of time, although there are a few states without residency requirements. Most states will require that one or both spouses are residents for a specified time before they are eligible to file a petition for divorce. Most jurisdictions have a six-month residency requirement, but it can vary depending on the state. Some states may also require divorcing couples to live apart for a certain length of time before any papers can be filed.
The divorce laws and guidelines of your state provide a framework for resolving a number of fundamental issues that must be decided before your marriage can be ended.
The state property laws and federal tax laws involved can make sorting your assets a somewhat complicated task. You will have to decide how your marital property and debts will be divided and whether or not someone will pay support or alimony. The duration and amount of alimony must also be addressed.
Children involved in a divorce raise a whole new set of issues including how custody, visitation, and child support will be handled. Issues involving children can be some of the most contentious points in a divorce and should be handled with care. Fighting between spouses over the kids or in front of the kids is sure way to make the situation worse. Every state has guidelines for determining the amounts of child support that will be paid in a divorce and when spouses work together the matter can usually be handled relatively quickly. When spouses don’t agree on the issues, the court will intervene and things will get more lengthy and expensive.
Agreement between spouses is critical to the divorce process and you will have more room to maneuver on most issues as long as you are both in agreement. Any decisions concerning the division of your marital property, spousal support, and child custody and visitation should be fair to both parties. If your divorce does go to trial, the judge will have considerable discretion in how the law is interpreted and not everything may go in your favor. You are allowed to appeal a judge’s decision, but appeals are hard to win and always cost more money.
Points to remember:
“¢ You do not have to hire an attorney. You can always represent yourself, but in complex cases it may be better to have the help of a professional who is experienced.
“¢ Your divorce action is started by serving your spouse a summons and petition for divorce.
“¢ You can receive child support assistance during the divorce before it has been completed by making a motion requesting the Court grant you temporary maintenance and/or child support.
“¢ If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may ask the court to order your spouse to pay your attorney.
“¢ The most common grounds for divorce are adultery, abandonment and abuse.
“¢ There is no way to tell in advance how long your divorce will take to complete. Uncontested divorces in which both spouses agree on all the issues will be processed by the court the most quickly.
“¢ There is no way to tell in advance how much your divorce will cost but complex, contested cases will always cost more. In addition to any attorney fees, you will also have to pay court filing fees and other costs incurred in the course of a divorce.
“¢ You can get divorced even if your spouse does not agree. Your spouse cannot force you to remain married if you don’t want to.
“¢ Most divorce cases are settled without a court trial. With or without help from attorneys and the intervention of the court, most couples are able to work out their differences and settle things without a trial.