Filing a Petition for Divorce
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When a couple decides on divorce, the divorce doesn’t actually start until a divorce petition is filed. Filing for divorce for most people is a very emotional experience, but as a legal process it must be complied. It is for that reason the couples that decide to file for divorce need the help of a divorce attorney. Not only is the divorce attorney the one person who will help couples understand the legal terminology, but they also make sure the parties involved receive a fair settlement. In addition to being your support person, a divorce lawyer will explain all the details and specifics about divorce, which will include jurisdiction, and the decisions that could influence your case. Having this important information available right from the start will keep individuals from making irreversible decisions that could negatively affect custody or visitation rights as well as responsibility for debts and division of property.
What’s The First Step When Filing For Divorce?
The legal process involved for a divorce filing begins when a divorce attorney prepares a divorce petition, and then files the petition with the clerk of the court. Divorce cases are filed and heard in the state’s district or family court and each divorce petition must be prepared according to specific legal requirements. That means the petition must include precise allegations and claims concerning the parties involved, as well as the residence of each party, and the number of children involved. The petition is written by one spouse, who is called the petitioner, and is then served on the other spouse, who is called the Respondent. The petition is then filed in a state court in the county where one of the spouses resides. If you are the one filing the petition, you are the “Petitioner.” The spouse being served is the “Respondent.” If both spouses file for divorce together, then they are “Co-petitioners.” Once the divorce attorney prepares the papers, the divorce petition is served on the Respondent. If both spouses agree to the divorce, the other spouse needs to sign an acknowledgement of the receipt of service. However, if the other spouse refuses to sign, a professional process server may have to be hired to personally deliver the papers.
After the Divorce Papers are Filed
Once a petition has been served to the Respondent, the spouse who has been served has to respond within an allotted period in answer to the petition. At this point, the respondent is given the opportunity to deny or even disagree with any claims made in the petition. Responses are generally limited to either admission or denial of allegations. The Respondent may also file a cross-petition, making their own allegations known. What follows next depends upon the complexity of the divorce or whether each party sees eye to eye on the terms. Often, couples with young children, debts, assets and property move forward with a contested divorce primarily because they can’t come to agreeable terms. If on the other hand, the couple is in agreement on most issues, the proceedings will continue uncontested. Once reaching this point spouses are not permitted to take their children out of state, sell any property, borrow against property, or borrow or sell insurance held for the other spouse. During this phase, both spouses must disclose information regarding assets, liabilities, income and expenses. When the court enters judgment, the divorce is final although the marriage is not formally dissolved and spouses cannot remarry until the state’s waiting period has ended.