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Step By Step Guide to The Divorce Process

Step By Step Guide to The Divorce Process

A divorce will prove to be among the most complex and trying legal matters to deal with on various levels.

Aside from the emotional, mental, and at times, the physical toll that undergoing a divorce process may entail, the legal aspect of a divorce can be just as taxing as well.

A divorce is the legal means by which a legal marital union is canceled, properly and legally terminating any legal responsibilities by the involved parties under the eyes of the law.

Though it is not necessary in order to the divorce process per se, it is strongly recommended that a knowledgeable and skilled divorce attorney be consulted before beginning the divorce process.


The most commonly taken first step in the divorce process is undergoing a separation period from the other spouse, oftentimes also referred to as a trial separation. This will usually entail one spouse physically moving out of the shared residence.

However, a separation such as this will not be legally recognized, which means that all duties and responsibilities of the married couple remain intact during the separation period.

Any incurred debts and jointly-owned assets will still be considered to be owned by both spouses in accordance with marriage laws.

Some states will often have a legal separation requirement as part of the divorce, though it is not necessarily legally required by all states.

Filling the Divorce Petition

In the United States, issues revolving around marriage and divorce will be controlled by the states, which means that each particular state will have its own regulations and statutes regarding the divorce process.

Furthermore, a divorce petition can only be filed in the state where the couple lives. If a divorce is deemed as the best possible and last resort in regards to a marriage, one must file a “Complaint about Dissolution of Marriage,” which involves the completion and submission of court documents to be filed with the local district court that has jurisdiction.

The petition will require certain types of information to be addressed, such as grounds for divorce and a list of all assets, possessions, and incurred debts during the marriage.

Notification of the Spouse

Upon filing the proper and necessary court documents, the other spouse will be notified that a divorce petition was filed.

The notified spouse must then respond to the court notification of the complaint, either by signing a Voluntary Appearance document or submitting a formal response regarding the grounds included in the divorce petition.

This response must be made typically within 30 days of being notified. Upon receiving a response, the court will then set a hearing date.

Temporary Hearing

In many cases, the actual date of the trial may be set for a much later date. In such a case, a temporary hearing is held to address certain issues that have important time restraints, such as child support and temporary child custody concerns.

Other issues often addressed will be requested for certain actions, such as exclusive use of a particular motor vehicle or residence, the award for attorney fees, and request for alimony.

Divorce Agreement

Often times the most difficult aspect of the divorce process is coming to terms with the proper division of assets, property, and debt.

Also, during a divorce agreement, the parameters for other issues, particularly child custody and alimony, are addressed, which can be hard to reach a mutual agreement due to the inherent issues regarding the divorce.

Often times, these agreements can be reached without the courts interfering. However, it is not uncommon for the courts to get involved in order to provide for the necessary agreement to be made and finalized.


In many cases, a divorce process will be brought to the courts in order for the spouses to obtain the provisions of the divorce agreement and be enforced by the courts of law.

The trial will only usually occur in the case that both parties cannot achieve any particular agreement or settlement, and thus, necessitating the courts to interfere to resolve the matter.

Issues that most commonly are discussed in a divorce trial will be child custody, child support, and alimony.