The Divorce Filing Process
The first task in the process of getting divorced is the filing of a divorce petition, also known as a Petition for Dissolution of the marriage. One spouse must formally file the petition with the local divorce court even if both parties agree to get divorced. In years past, a divorce petition needed to state the whether the grounds for the pending divorce were “at fault” or “no fault,” however today, every state now offers no fault divorce where there is no court contest over who was at fault and irreconcilable differences is the only reason that needs to be presented. While it is still possible to state that a specific fault like abuse, adultery or abandonment is the cause of a divorce, it is not required or contested in most instances.
The spouse who filed the original divorce petition will also likely have to show Proof of Service to the court in order to verify that the other spouse has acknowledged receiving of a copy of the petition. If you are still on speaking terms with your spouse, you can try to serve the petition to them yourself, if not, you may have to hire a Sheriff or professional process server to do the job for you. Some jurisdictions will allow Certified or Return Receipt Requested mail service to be used for Proof of Service. In those difficult divorce cases where all other methods of serving the petition have failed, publication of notice of the petition in a local newspaper may be allowed by a judge as legal Proof of Service in some cases.
The spouse who receives that copy of the petition has the ability to file a response to the petition with the divorce court. The response will cover any disputes the receiving spouse may have with the terms and conditions set forth in the petition. The proposed terms of property division, alimony, child support, and other details, can be disputed in the initial response. If both parties to the divorce do not agree on major issues like child support, child custody and child visitation schedules, the court has the option to enforce mediation that may involve outside evaluation of the family situation by a social worker or other court appointed case worker.
In those circumstances where one parent maintains custody of the children and also needs financial assistance until the divorce is completed, that parent can ask the court to issue temporary orders covering both custody and child support. Temporary custody orders will remain in effect and last until the matter is settled in court with a judge’s ruling. This means divorce petitioners can request temporary orders at the same time they file their petition for dissolution and that the responders to the petition can ask for temporary orders as soon as they have received a copy of the petition for dissolution. Although the divorce filing process begins with the filing of the divorce petition, the petition is not the final ruling of the court by any means. Both parties and their legal counsel will have ample time and opportunity to request any changes and amendments they might feel are necessary before a divorce agreement is finalized.
Common Elements of Divorce Filing:
Grounds ““ The specific type of grounds for divorce you are filing for.
Court ““ The exact name of the specific court and jurisdiction you are filing in.
Residency ““ Each state has residency requirements that must be met prior to filing.
Venue ““ The particular place and county court your case is filed in.
Filer ““ The person filing for the divorce is referred to as the Plaintiff or Petitioner.
Responder ““ The party receiving the petition is the Defendant or Respondent.
Property ““ Distribution of community, separate or marital property is outlined.
Custody – Provisions for joint or separate custody are included.
Support ““ Alimony, child support, and spousal support guidelines.