Bowling Green State University reported the divorce rate per 1,000 married women in the U.S. was 14.56 in 2022. Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process, and understanding its various stages can help make the journey more manageable.
While the specifics of each divorce may differ, there are general steps that most divorces typically follow.
Filing a petition
One spouse initiates the legal proceedings by filing a divorce petition with the appropriate court. This individual is the petitioner.
Serving the papers
After filing the petition, the petitioner must serve the divorce papers to the other spouse, the respondent. This process can involve a process server or law enforcement officer.
Response and counterpetition
The other spouse, upon receiving the divorce papers, has a specified timeframe to respond to the divorce petition. They can also file a counterpetition outlining their terms for the divorce.
To ensure stability in essential matters during the divorce process, the court may issue temporary orders for child custody, spousal support and property division.
Discovery and disclosure
Both parties exchange financial and other relevant information through discovery. Full disclosure is essential to ensuring an equitable division of assets and debts.
Negotiations and settlement
Most divorce cases are resolved through negotiation. Spouses work together, either independently or with the assistance of mediators, to reach a mutually agreeable settlement regarding property, finances, child custody and other matters the law requires.
In cases where a couple cannot reach an agreement through negotiation, the case may proceed to trial. A judge will hear evidence and make decisions on unresolved matters according to state law.
Finalizing the divorce
Once the couple or the court resolves all issues, the court will create the divorce decree for both parties to sign. This document outlines the terms of the divorce. Both parties must adhere to the terms outlined in this document.
While this overview of the divorce process provides a general understanding, it is important to recognize that every divorce is unique, and the specific steps may vary. Being well-informed about the process can help couples navigate this process more effectively.