Divorce is not an overnight thing. From the time you separate from your spouse until the final divorce decree is handed down by the judge, a series of milestones will occur. Read on and learn more.
Some states require that the spouses be living separately from each other at the time of the divorce. In most cases, it doesn't take much prompting for the couple to split up physically if economics allows it. Once you are separated, keep in mind that you can petition the judge to order child support, temporary custody and visitation, and even spousal support. Talk to a lawyer about domestic orders during separation.
Seek Legal Help
Do yourself a favor and hire the best divorce lawyer you can afford in your area before your spouse does the same thing. It pays to have the upper hand by filing first and being the one who is asking for the divorce. It places you in an offensive rather than defensive status. Before you meet with your lawyer, think about what you want in terms of child custody, property, debt divisions, and spousal support. Be sure to let your lawyer know about your spouse's financial affairs and any threats made concerning divorce issues like child custody. Your lawyer needs to know right away, for example, if your spouse has threatened to abscond with your child. Violence, substance abuse, and other issues should also be mentioned.
A divorce might be thought of as a series of hearings that resolve issues. Only one hearing is necessary if you and your spouse agree on everything and sign papers to that effect. That is known as an uncontested divorce. Any issue, from custody to property to debt, that the couple disagrees about will prompt another court appearance.
Mediation and Studies
Mediation is an increasingly popular and effective way of dealing with divorce disagreements outside of court. The mediator may be appointed by the judge or your lawyer can recommend someone. The mediator is trained in conflict resolution. They often work alone with each party after spending time with them together. Some judges may also order a child study to determine the parent best suited for sole or primary custody of the children.
Once custody is determined, all property and debts are split, child support is ordered, and every issue is resolved, the final petition or decree is issued. Speak to a divorce attorney near you to learn more about divorce milestones.