How to Start Divorce Proceedings

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The end of a marital relationship is a major decision in the life of a couple which causes huge emotional as well as financial stress. Whether to seek a divorce or not is a challenging decision for them. Often, doubt comes in mind about how to start divorce proceedings and what would be the consequences if a divorce is opted. While the decision is reached, they need to follow important steps to complete the divorce process without any complications. Every state in the US has chalked out its own divorce process. So, prior to embarking on the divorce route, it is advisable to check out the requirements of the specific state.

Step One of How to start Divorce Proceedings:

  • Every state has specified the process of establishing proper jurisdiction for the divorce case. Accordingly, the person seeking divorce must select the right court
  • Generally, it is permitted to file in a state wherein the marriage had not taken place, if at least one spouse has been a resident of this state
  • Usually, the residency requirements specify that if a person has resided for 6 months to 12 months in a state before the date of filing of the divorce papers, then this person has satisfied the residency criteria
  • Once a person finalizes the decision to divorce, he/she must approach the Family Law section of the Circuit Court in the appropriate county

Step Two of How to begin the Divorce Proceedings:

  • At the Family Law section, the person seeking divorce must procure a standard divorce petition form
  • The form mentioned in the previous point is also available online
  • Now, it is time to fill the details in this form. Some of the information to be written in this form is as follows:
    • Identification of the parties
    • Grounds of the divorce
    • Whether this person (now called as the petitioner or plaintiff) is demanding child support payments, child custody and/or spousal support payments

Step Three to start Divorce Proceedings:

  • In some states, some supplementary documents are demanded along with the petition
  • These supporting documents are a list of the debts, liabilities, income and assets of both partners seeking divorce
  • In case of some states, only filing the petition is sufficient and these supporting documents may be filed at a later stage
  • The court clerk in some states has the summons for a court hearing on the petition. This document must accompany the petition
  • The process of filing the divorce petition specifies the number of copies of the petition that are essential along with the necessary filing fee
  • If it is not possible for the petitioner to disburse the filing fee, it may be waived by the court in some cases

Step Four to begin the Divorce Proceedings:

  • The divorce procedure is considered formally begun when the petition and the supporting documents are served to the other partner (now called as Respondent or Defendant)
  • Some of the options for performing the service are as follows:
    • The petitioner may hire a private process server
    • The local sheriff may execute the service
  • The date on which service is done is very crucial. The respondent is given a limited time duration from this date within which it is expected
  • that the respondent should offer a response to the petition
  • If the respondent fails to do so, he/she looses the rights in the divorce case

Taking legal help - An important step

In US, a person may or may not take the help of attorneys to fight their divorce case. Since, a divorce procedure involves a lot of legal formalities, the parties usually hire an attorney. Divorce attorneys can understand the intricacies of the case and are in a position to take actions and inform about all the legal rights that will act in the best interest of the parties in court. Thus, it is a necessary step to hire a lawyer before the start of divorce proceedings. A lawyer may be consulted just before filing the divorce case and all important papers should be compiled. One should always consult a lawyer whose is experienced and has proven track record.

Nevertheless, hiring an attorney absolutely lies at the discretion of the parties. Uncontested or do-it-yourself cases may be carried out without an attorney's help. But, it is extremely essential to know the necessary laws with respect to the case that will be produced before the court. Nowadays, mediation process has also become quite popular method of obtaining a divorce. In contested or litigation cases, an attorney's help is strongly desirable.

A divorce brings an end to a married relationship. When a couple knows that the marriage is over and it's time to start divorce proceedings, it is important to lessen the emotional exhaustion at this stage. It is better to keep all emotions like anger, pain, fear, frustration aside and start with an aim. Getting a divorce by following proper steps and rules according to State laws will surely ensure a smooth process both emotionally and financially.

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