What’s Involved in the Divorce Process?

A Run-Through of the Process of Divorce

After you decide to end your marriage with a divorce, it is useful to seek the services of a family attorney to help you through the process. A lawyer can mediate on your behalf, which makes things easier – especially since neither spouse may be clear about what they want from the decision. In some cases, however, the couple may decide to represent themselves.

The divorce process begins after one partner files a petition at their state court. Usually, the one served has 30 days to respond to the petition. The respondent is required to answer after careful scrutiny of the serving to determine what’s involved in the process. This can be done personally, or with help of a family lawyer. Then follows the service of process, which entails the filer to receive copies of all the documents. State laws can vary on the service of process, so it is essential one review these to ensure appropriate service

Individuals then need to file legal documents to inform the court of the dispute and what is requested. This means both partners must file more documents to offer information that helps the court make a decision. In some cases, a restraining order can be issued as legal protection during this part of the process. This is helpful in cases of abuse or domestic violence.

The legal process of divorce also involves a period of discovery to get the necessary information. Both spouses must declare their finances, debts, property, assets, and support and custody. They are further required to declare their worth as far as property is concerned, as well as reveal plans to support their children.

A divorce only becomes final after the judge signs the judgment, after which the court will file a notice of the entry.

Is the Divorce Process Always Lengthy?

The divorce process can turn out to be lengthy, especially when there’s dissension between the two involved. It thus becomes difficult for the couple to agree on most issues, including custody of the children as well as the division of property. While a couple can try to hash out these differences among themselves, hiring a lawyer to offer legal advice can speed up the process.

In other words, the duration of divorce depends on how willing the two involved are to agree on the process to finalize their union. If they cannot agree, it makes the process of divorce even more complex in the end. Following is a brief look at the types of divorce that can happen between couples.

An uncontested divorce is where the spouses agree on the terms of separation. In most states, the couple has to be apart for at least a year to qualify to file for uncontested divorce. The duration of an uncontested divorce after the separation period and initial filing depends on how fast a settlement is reached and how long the court takes to process the case. At times, it can take as few as two months for couples who are in agreement regarding the terms.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, can take a longer time since the grounds for divorce need to be proven. This type of divorce is based upon one partner accusing the other of something, such as cheating or abuse. The particular circumstances of the case determine the length of the divorce, along with the judge’s schedule. During the proceedings of a contested divorce, each partner will have a chance to present an individual argument to the judge. The process can be slowed if there is contention over custody of children or division of property.

As an additional note, a contested divorce almost always requires a lawyer to help the couple negotiate and come to an agreement. While sometimes an uncontested divorce can be resolved among the couple themselves, a contested divorce’s complexity and time investment often need professional counsel to resolve.

What Does It Cost to Get a Divorce?

Divorce does not have to be an expensive affair, especially if both partners agree on some (or all!) things. It can be as easy as the two consenting to end the marriage with agreement on the way to handle common issues such as custody or property ownership. However, this is not always the case. If a partner disagrees or has several differences in how they want the separation to be handled, the process could drag on for a long time and involve higher legal fees.

Couples who choose to go through the process themselves certainly have less to pay in the cost of divorce. There are several methods of divorce, and you can also take on a lawyer to mediate for you. There’s no particular figure as to how much a divorce will cost, but on average it can be anything between $300 and $200,000! It helps if the couple in question can reach an understanding fast enough to cut back on the cost. Some divorce cases have been known to drag on for years, draining families of finances as well as taking up a lot of time.

Before initiating a divorce, it is important for one to check out the cost of the attorney, how much dispute resolution will cost, and court costs. Keep in mind that costs will mainly go toward legal fees, such as mediation and representation. Get the facts on what is involved in your particular case to avoid hitting a stalemate at some point in the process. If your partner is unwilling to agree on most issues, you should get a lawyer to advise on the way to go early enough in the process. This will help iron out the wrinkles quickly and efficiently.

What’s the Required Duration of Separation to Qualify for Divorce?

The separation period before filing for divorce varies from state to state, but on average, it can be anything between six months to two years. On the other hand, separation can even last for life if the couple is unwilling to bring the process to a conclusion – especially when issues of property and disputes on the custody of the children come up. This can also happen if one of the spouses is unwilling to let the partner go; thus, they might keep bringing up issues that cause further delay.

If One Spouse Doesn’t Consent, Then What?

After a spouse is served with the papers, he/she may be unwilling to grant a divorce. You can, however, get a divorce even if your spouse does not consent in most states. The reluctance or refusal of your spouse to get divorced does not have to hold you back.

The only time a spouse’s consent may affect your decision to get a divorce is when children or substantial property exists between you. In these cases, procedures are different in every state and often subject to local court rules. Get a lawyer to advise you if you do not intend to hire one to mediate for your case. Alternatively, go for a no-fault divorce, whereby neither of you takes the blame for the dissolution of the union.

The court must grant a divorce between a couple. This permission can only be granted after all relevant financial and legal issues get sorted out to the satisfaction of the two. In the event one partner wants a no-fault divorce but the other does not, you could be forced to hire the services of an attorney to litigate on the case. This can drive up costs.

The alternative would be for both of you to use mediation and get a no-fault divorce without a lawyer. This is, however, difficult if one partner does not consent to divorce. Should it happen that a spouse declines to sign divorce papers, the one who seeks a divorce will then need to get a contested divorce. This means the one wishing to obtain the divorce has to file a petition at the family court in their jurisdiction.


Everything about a divorce has to do with the two people who seek to end their marriage. They can make it easy to end the union of marriage or complicate the process, causing it to run up a bill and waste time. If at all possible, speak to your partner about your decision to get a feel for how the process will go. If you can sort things out yourselves, this can speed up the procedure and save you a great deal of money. However, if you find that your differences with your partner are irreconcilable, it might be time to consider hiring a family law attorney.

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