Divorce Procedures

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In USA, almost 40-50% of marriages end up in divorce making the nation rank in the top five divorce-seeking countries in the world. Unlike the earlier times, marriage now is a breakable affair. Serious matters like adultery, drug or alcohol abuse, quarrels over household affairs, ego clashes, etc. and often trivial issues culminate into the havoc called divorce. Couples confront the court to end the marital bond and get a divorce. They have to go through a number of divorce procedures that are governed by the state laws of USA.

Every divorce case is unique and a number of divorce laws are legislated in order to address the issues pertaining to the particular divorce case. As a result the divorce procedures are also different. In the US, the litigation procedures of each state is different from the other. Every separating couple should know the divorce steps that they need to follow to get a smooth and fair divorce without much hassle.

Before you file for a divorce, you must be well aware of the requirements that you have to meet before and during the process. We are providing here a brief information about the requirements. The list is prepared from a broad perspective because all divorce cases are not same and need different requirements, procedures and length of time.

  • Residency Requirement: You must meet the residency requirement of the state from where you are filing for the case; because this particular state has the sole jurisdiction over your case. The plaintiff or the petitioner must live the state from where he/ she is fighting the case for a certain period of time as specified by the state laws.

  • Ground for divorce: There are many states in USA that grant divorces on fault ground and no-fault grounds. Again some states do not offer this flexibility and grant cases on either ground. If your marriage is irretrievably broken and there are irreconcilable differences between the couple. Fault grounds include serious issues like adultery, impotency, felony conviction, cruelty, insanity, drug abuse, etc. You have to produce proof of the grounds for divorce.

  • Other matters: Other matters relate to issues of child custody and property division. Regarding child custody and child support, the court makes decisions that are in the best interests of the children. Most of the states grants an equitable distribution of marital property where the property is distributed justly and fairly, although not equally at all times. One of the most important divorce procedures involves producing financial documents of marital property, debts, inherited property, and information on children, if any. You have to attach all the documents with the petition and then serve a copy of the petition to the defendant. The petition is also known as 'Original Petition for Divorce' or 'Letter of Complaint'.

Although the divorce procedures in the different states in the United States vary slightly with respect to the documents to be filed, the waiting period to be endured etc., the divorce process can be broadly categorized into the following steps:

  • Completing and filing the Petition for divorce
  • The Petition is accompanied by the Summons and other relevant documents
  • Serving the divorce documents to the Respondent (Defendant)
  • The defendant has to respond within the given time as specified by the state laws
  • Requesting for temporary orders, if felt essential
  • During the waiting period, the divorcing partners attempt to bridge their differences and reach at an agreement
  • If necessary, mediation sessions are held
  • The Discovery phase consists of disclosure of pertinent facts
  • If an agreement cannot be reached, a trial is begun
  • During the trial, the parties disclose their side of the story, present evidences and produce witnesses
  • The Judge oversees all the facts, evidences, witnesses statements and forms a decision regarding the case
  • When the Judge signs the Decree of Divorce, the divorce becomes final
  • If any divorcing partner is not satisfied with the decision of the Judge, such a partner can file an Appeal in the higher court
  • If the divorce is uncontested, the couples need not be present in the court. The lawyer prepares all the papers and present it to the court. The court grants divorce once it is satisfied with all the legal documents and the grounds on which the case is filed.

Here are some topics associated with divorce procedures:

Information about state specific divorce procedures

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

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