Are you thinking about filing for divorce and are unsure how the procedure will go? While the weight of a failing marriage can be heavy for a multitude of reasons, knowing what options are available; the sequence of steps that follow can help lessen some of that burden. “A divorce is an option that formally ends the marriage and where the matrimonial courts; have the broadest powers to deal with the parties’ financial separation,” says award-winning family lawyer Laura Naser. “Unless there is hope of reconciliation; other significant reasons to warrant an annulment; or to prefer a legal separation, filing a divorce is often; the preferred option to end a marriage.”
The steps you take during the divorce proceedings will be determined by the divorce laws in your state. “It’s tough to tell whether your settlement expectations are acceptable,” Naser says. “Frequently, spouses get into disagreements because they have incorrect information but believe they are correct; they can become entrenched in perspectives and disputes. This is why seeking family law assistance as soon as possible can not only help you set reasonable expectations but; will also help you avoid these types of conflicts.
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The smartest thing you can do as a couple is seeking separate legal advice. While there are some differences, we’ve put together a general explanation of the steps involved in filing a divorce case; from the initial petition to the potential of filing a divorce motion to appeal. Short-term marriages with no children or marital assets to divide will get through the process swiftly; while others may take a long, drawn-out, and at times frustrating procedure.
Filing for Divorce
Because each divorce filing is unique, you may encounter challenges in addition; to these processes that are specific to your divorce. Continue reading for a complete overview of all the stages involved in filing for divorce.
Divorce vs. Legal Separation
Legal separation is a court-ordered arrangement in which a couple remains married but lives apart. “The pair’s status as [a married couple] is effectively terminated by the court. And they are no longer to live together “Naser explains. “This alternative appeals to those who have religious or moral grounds for not filing for divorce. But who wouldn’t want to legalize their divorce in the eyes of the law in some way? The court can impose some financial orders for the spouses, but not to the same level as on divorce; so it’s a more limited alternative.”
Some states do not have legislation that allows a couple to enter into a legal separation agreement. Until a judge rules otherwise, you are married in those states. If your state enables couples to legally separate after one or both spouses leave the family home; your attorney will file a separation agreement with the courts. This agreement safeguards the interests of both spouses and any children born during the marriage by ensuring that both parties; fulfill their legal obligations to one another.
Filing Divorce Process Steps
The following are the steps to filing a divorce:
Divorce Petition in Its Original Form
A document called a “Original Petition for Divorce” is submitted with your local court clerk to start the divorce procedure. This is known as a “Letter of Complaint” in some states. Both forms ask the court to grant a divorce and identify any relief the divorced party believes they are entitled to.
The parties to the divorce, as well as any children they may have, will be listed in the original petition. As part of the petition or letter, the party filing for divorce must specify a cause. This will be referred to as “irreconcilable disagreements” or “incompatibility” in most states. The divorce petitioner is referred to as the “petitioner” by the courts, while the other party is referred to as; the “respondent” or, in some states, the “defendant” by the courts.
Orders for Temporary Divorce
“A court has considered the application and determined that the spouses are entitled to a divorce; but they are not yet divorced,” Naser explains. “The divorce filing process has a built-in predetermined contemplation period, so the spouses must wait unless there are special circumstances; that warrant speeding the process.”
The court has the authority to make temporary orders that spell out particular activities that must be carried out immediately; continue until the final divorce hearing. Temporary orders can include things like child support, spousal support, and child custody. These orders are legally enforceable, and failing to comply with them will result in you being held in contempt of court; where you may be imprisoned or punished at the judge’s discretion.
Discovery is a legal procedure for acquiring information about either party to a divorce filing. Although states and their regulations differ, the four parts of the discovery process outlined below; are standard and will almost certainly be inclusive in your divorce filing.
- Disclosures: Every state has its own set of civil procedural regulations that govern how information is shared. Attorneys for both parties ask for specific documents from the other. The opposition takes 30 days to respond to the list of things.
- Interrogatories: This is a list of questions sent to the opposing party by the attorneys. Most states limit the number of questions you can ask and give you 30 days to respond.
- Admissions of Fact: An admission of fact is a written list of facts intended at the opposing party. The person who receives the list is asked to confirm or deny each information.
- Request for Production: This is when an attorney asks for papers such as bank statements, tax returns; other information that they believe may be beneficial to their clients. A person who receives a request has 30 days to produce the requested materials. This stage of the procedure can be a major roadblock to a quick divorce; since people may be reluctant to hand over sensitive information and may use delaying tactics to prolong the process.
Attorneys will take sworn testimony from the opposing party and any witnesses engaged during depositions. If an agreement isn’t reached, anything said during the deposition can be used in divorce court.
Both filing for divorce parties meet during mediation to discuss any disputes they may have; to try to reach an agreement that fits their requirements. The mediator is a court-appointed attorney or arbitrator who is there to help the parties reach an agreement. Naser recommends receiving legal advice both before and during mediation, as mediators cannot give legal advice; can only help you through the process. “You can commit to mediation for as many sessions as you need,” she continues; “so you can take a ‘let’s see how we go’ attitude when committing to it.”
A trial date will be set if mediation fails and unsolved concerns remain. During the trial, both parties have the opportunity to present their cases to a judge, who will then review all of the evidence and make a judgment based on what they believe is a fair divorce settlement and outcome. “For many spouses, court is the final choice and only method to force progress on the other,” adds Naser, who recommends settling out of court if feasible.
Filing for Divorce Online
Finding an alternative to the regular court process is critical if you want to keep costs down and make your divorce less traumatic. Paying a lawyer thousands of dollars to handle the process is simply out of the question for many people.
While it is a wonderful method to save money by representing yourself in court, filing a divorce without assistance can be stressful. Even if your state court provides free self-help resources, navigating the procedure and determining which paperwork to utilize can be time-consuming and complex.
Fortunately, there is a simpler, less stressful option that falls between between DIYing your divorce and hiring an attorney: online divorce services.
What Is a Filing Divorce Online?
An online divorce is one in which you use an internet service to guide you through the processes of the divorce process, such as writing divorce documents, negotiating a divorce settlement agreement, and filing the paperwork with the court. These services remove the uncertainty from your divorce: Based on your responses to an online questionnaire or interview. The service will complete out the paperwork for you and direct you to where you should file it (or how to e-file it in some counties). Some online divorce businesses will even file the filing for you for an extra fee.
How to Pick an Online Divorce Filing Service
You’ll need to discover a provider that handles divorce in your state when filing for divorce online. As the practice of filing for divorce online becomes more widespread (thank you, epidemic! ), more services are expanding their reach across the country. However, before you become too connected to a provider, make sure it handles divorce in your state.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can delve deeper to locate the greatest fit for your requirements. Most online services for filing for divorce have educational websites where you can learn more about what they can and can’t do for you, as well as an explanation of how the process works and what charges and fees to expect.
How Much Does It Cost to File a Divorce Online?
Online divorce services range in price from $199 to $2,500, and you can split the cost with your spouse. Even at the upper end of the scale, that’s a significant savings over the cost of a divorce involving two lawyers and a trial. Court filing expenses, notarization fees, and serving of process fees, which can add up to several hundred dollars, are normally not inclusive in these charges. Some services offer a one-time price, while others use a subscription model in which you pay monthly for as long as it takes to complete your divorce filing.
The Procedure for Filing for Divorce Online
Once you and your husband have chosen to divorce and have agreed to use an online service to file for divorce, the steps in your divorce usually go like this.
1. Open a new account.
You’ll be ask to create a password-protected user account with any online provider for filing for divorce. To kick start this process, you’ll need to answer a few basic questions about yourself and your spouse, as well as confirm that you and your spouse are eligible to utilize the service.
2. Collect and enter your data.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to fill out the necessary information to finish your divorce application, such as financial information, property information, and any children. It usually takes approximately an hour to submit the information into the online service’s application, but you may need more time to investigate and gather everything you need. Even if you and your husband agree on how to handle your finances, child custody, and support, the court will expect you to make extensive disclosures in your filing.
3. Go over all of your data again.
You’ll have the chance to go over and edit all of the responses you gave during the interview or questionnaire.
4. Create and fill out your forms.
The site will generate finished versions of all the forms you need to file, including a marital settlement agreement, after you’ve double-checked the information you’ve provided. On some of the forms, you may need to provide additional information, such as your case number or current income information.
Most services allow you to download and print as many copies of these forms as you wish, or you can ask for paper versions to be mail to you. Before submitting the documents to the court, you’ll need to sign them—the service will tell you where to sign, how to sign (electronic or pen-and-ink signature), and whether anything needs to be notarized.
5. Submit the forms to the proper court.
If you’re filing to file the papers yourself, the service you’re using will give you specific instructions on where and how to file. In many states, the court will require you to file an initial set of documents, which will include the main divorce “petition” or “complaint,” and then a second set of documents later.
In Texas, for example, you’ll bring the following documents to a hearing after filing an Original Petition for Divorce: a signed Marital Settlement Agreement, a Final Decree of Divorce form, a Child Support Worksheet (if you have minor children), and an Income Withholding Order (for child support or spousal support.) Which forms to file initially should be specified by the divorce provider you choose.
6. Hand over the divorce papers to your spouse.
You’ll almost certainly have to “serve” the paperwork to your husband. Even if the divorce is uncontested, most states require that the divorce paperwork be filed by just one spouse, who subsequently serves the papers on the other. You can ask your spouse to sign a waiver of service form instead in many states. You may need to hire a process server if your state does not offer a waiver form or if your spouse refuses to sign it. (If the service you’re using files your papers with the court, all you have to do is make sure you’ve given them complete and signed copies.)
7. Your documents will be reviewed by a judge.
The chances of the court rejecting it are small because most online businesses do a fantastic job of filling out the necessary documentation for you. However, the court may notify you that something in your documentation has to be corrected or completed. It’s also not uncommon for a courthouse to ask you to complete a new version of a form or a new cover sheet that the courthouse requires. Again, make sure to enquire about the online divorce service’s guarantee in the case that your paperwork is denied.
8. Await the finalization of the divorce.
The time it takes for a court to conclude a divorce differs dramatically from state to state. Your divorce could be finalized within a month or two of filing, or it could take up to a year, depending on where you live. Before a judge may approve your divorce, several states need you to wait a certain amount of time.
For example, in California, the judge must wait six months after the petition is filed before finalizing the divorce; in Texas, it takes 60 days. The business you use to file for divorce online should be able to provide you an estimate of how long it will take for your divorce to be finalized. For your records, make sure you obtain a copy of the final divorce decree.
Filing for Divorce in California
Everyone’s divorce filing procedure is different. Some divorces are simple and amicable, while others can be drawn out and time-consuming. Others, on the other hand, may have it easier due to a lack of property or children. In any case, having a rough concept of how to file for divorce before you start the process might be beneficial. There are three ways to end a marriage or domestic relationship in California:
- Separation from the law
Divorce in California: What You Need to Know
If you’re filing for divorce in California, be sure you or your spouse have lived there for at least six months. Furthermore, you must live in the county where you intend to file for divorce for three months prior to divorce.
California is a fault-free state when it comes to divorce.
In California, there is no such thing as a no-fault divorce. This means that in order to get a divorce, you are not authorized or needed to show your spouse’s shortcomings. Rather, in California, there are only two methods to get a divorce: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.
In California, how long must you be separated before filing for divorce?
There is no mandatory separation period in California before filing for divorce. You must, however, wait six months for your divorce to be granted by the courts. This is due to California’s six-month waiting period between filing for divorce and having your divorce finalized by a court.
In California, there are a few different ways to get a divorce.
You’ve decided that divorce is the best course of action for you. So, what’s next? The following is a step-by-step guide to getting a divorce in California:
1. Fill in the blanks on the forms
Filling out various forms is the initial step in starting a divorce filing. When you initiate a divorce case, you’ll need to fill out the following forms:
- Summons: A summons is a legal document that informs your spouse that they must appear in court. The summons will tell you what you may and cannot do with your property (assets or debts). You or your husband are not allowed to move out of state with your joint children, according to the summons. It also states that you cannot apply for a passport for your children without the written approval of your other spouse.
- Petition: On this document, you will provide details about your marriage and ask the court to order certain events to occur.
- Application for child custody and visitation: If you have small children, you must complete this form. This paper offers information on a number of topics, such as holiday schedules and small child visits. The California courts website has the specific forms you require.
2. Go over your forms with someone who knows what they’re doing.
It’s critical to make sure the information you fill out on the paperwork is correct and thorough, as it will almost certainly influence the outcome of your divorce. During this stage of the process, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney. Whether you can’t afford an attorney, see if your court’s self-help center or family law facilitator can double-check your paperwork.
3. Submit the paperwork to the court clerk.
After you’ve double-checked that the forms are complete, file them with the court clerk in your county. Use the California courts website’s tool to make sure you’re filing your divorce case in the correct county. You must file additional forms if you require a temporary court order for something urgent. You can place a temporary order for the following items:
- Child assistance
- Support from the spouse
- Payment of bills
- A Temporary Order for Protection can protect you from domestic violence.
4. Be of Service to Your Spouse
You must notify your spouse that you are filing for divorce under the law. You accomplish this by serving your spouse with copies of all the paperwork you filed with the court. Service in California can be in one of two ways:
- Service through mail
- Personal service
If your spouse does not live in California, you can serve the Petition and Summons by certified mail. You have to request a return receipt. You cannot present the papers to your spouse yourself for personal service. Must appoint someone over the age of 18 to give a copy of the court documents. This could be a relative, a friend, or a county sheriff.
5. Partner Has Choices to make
Your spouse has 30 days to respond to the court’s order. Your partner has a variety of choices as well, including:
Take no action: Your spouse is considered to be in default in such instances, which means your lawsuit may proceed without them. Even if you file a response, you must still have a written agreement with you on the divorce conditions. File a response expressing your dissatisfaction with the request you made.
6. Financial Disclosure Forms Should Be Served
You and your spouse are required by law to share written information on what you own (property) and what you owe (debt) (debts). This must be done within 60 days of your petition’s filing date. You must either mail or have someone else deliver your disclosure to your spouse. The California Courts website has everything you need to fill out your disclosure forms.
7. Bring Your Divorce to a Close
The next steps in finalizing your divorce are determined by how your spouse responded to your divorce petition. If your spouse does not object to the divorce and you have reached an agreement on the terms of the divorce, you should put your agreement in writing. This may include how you will divide your property and if you have children together; the terms regarding child support and custody.
If, however, your spouse contests the divorce, you can try mediation to reach a compromise. If not, then the court will set a trial date, and the judge will decide on the terms of the divorce.
Do You Need an Attorney in California to File for Divorce?
In California, the divorce procedure is lengthy and complicated. If your spouse objects to the divorce and your case goes to trial, hiring an experienced attorney may be the best alternative. Working with an attorney is especially necessary if one spouse has more power than the other, such as in domestic violence cases.
If you decide to do it yourself, you can learn more about the procedure by visiting the California Courts website. If you can’t afford a lawyer, contact a divorce lawyer at one of the legal assistance offices in your area.
How Much Does It Cost to Filing for Divorce in California?
In California, the filing fee for a divorce is $435. If your spouse decides to respond to your complaint, they will be required to pay an additional $435. It’s also worth noting that as the case develops, there may be further charges. If you can’t afford to pay these fees, you can request a fee waiver.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
The procedure of filing a divorce in Texas can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be, especially if you and your husband are able to take advantage of the special rules and assistance available to couples who can go through their divorce together.
Before Filing for Divorce in Texas, Here’s What You Should Do
You should learn whether you meet the state’s residence criteria and will be able to petition for an uncontested divorce before filing for divorce (also known as “dissolution of marriage”) in Texas. Then you’ll need to obtain and fill out the appropriate divorce paperwork.
Residency Requirements in Texas
To receive a divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must have lived in one of the following cities:
- Resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing, and
- For the last 90 days in the county where you intend to file.
In Texas, you must meet certain requirements to be eligible for an uncontested divorce.
The couples have negotiated a marital settlement agreement covering all of the legal difficulties involved in dissolving their marriage in an uncontested divorce (also known as “agreed divorce” in Texas).
- How will they share their assets and debts?
- Alimony (spousal support) and
- Child support, visitation, and custody (if they have minor children).
In addition, both spouses must agree that the marriage has become “insupportable,” with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation—one of Texas’ no-fault reasons (or “grounds”) for divorce.
Getting Ready for Your Texas Divorce Forms
To begin your Texas divorce case, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork, as with most court cases. On the Texas Law Help website, you may discover streamlined forms and instructions for filing for an uncontested divorce.
There are different forms depending on your situation, such as whether you and your spouse have minor children, whether you’re the “petitioner” (meaning you’ll start the process by filing a divorce petition), or whether you’re the “respondent” (meaning you’ll be the one who responds to the petition for divorce) (the other spouse). The Texas Supreme Court also offers a set of approved divorce forms—but only for uncontested divorces in which the couples have no minor children and no real estate (like a house).
Obtaining Assistance With Texas Divorce Forms
There is another alternative besides hiring a lawyer to do it for you if the procedure of searching down the necessary forms and filling them out properly is daunting—or if you simply don’t have the time for it. You can utilize an online divorce service to get the right forms filled out for you based on your responses to an online questionnaire. For an extra price, several of these firms will even file the forms for you.
Filing and Serving Your Divorce Forms in Texas
Once you’ve gathered and filled out all of the necessary divorce documents in Texas, you’ll need to file them with the court clerk in the county where you meet the residency criteria. Bring the original and two copies of all forms to the clerk’s office to file them. Unless you qualify for a waiver, you must pay a filing fee and submit a completed Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs form. Divorce filing fees in Texas vary from county to county, but they commonly range from $250 to over $400.
In Texas, you must give notice of your divorce.
You’ll need to give your spouse a copy of your divorce petition and other documentation after you’ve filed it with the court. There are two fundamental methods for doing so:
1. Process service.
The standard procedure for serving your spouse (also known as “service of citation”) is for a sheriff, constable, authorized process server, or another authorized adult (unrelated to the divorce case) to personally deliver the documents, which include a file-stamped copy of the petition, a notice of the divorce proceeding (called a “citation”), and a blank form for your spouse’s response to the petition.
If this option hasn’t worked for you, you can make a request for personal service via another channel (such as email) that will effectively tell your husband of the divorce proceedings. However, if you are unable to locate or serve your spouse directly, you may seek a judge’s permission to serve your spouse by publishing a notice in a local newspaper.
2. A waiver of service
If your spouse agrees to forego formal serving of process, you can just give him or her the documents along with a blank form called Waiver of Service Only. The waiver document must be sign in presence of a notary.
If you have a child who has ever received federal benefits (Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), you must additionally tell the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division about your divorce case by providing a file-stamped copy of your petition (either by email or by certified mail with return receipt requested).
Steps to Take Next in Your Texas Divorce
The next steps in your divorce will depend on whether your case is uncontested or disputed once you’ve filed and served your divorce papers.
In a contested divorce, the respondent has 20 days to respond to the divorce petition (otherwise, the case may proceed as a default divorce).
The respondent must either file an answer or return the signed waiver of service in an uncontested divorce (which either spouse may file with the court). Both spouse must sign A Final Decree of Divorce. You can send this completed form along with the initial papers to save time.
Texas now compels the spouses to disclose initial disclosures, including specific information and documentation about their property, retirement plans, and other financial matters, if the respondent files an answer (even if the divorce is uncontested).
Filing for Divorce in Florida
If you’re filing divorce in Florida, the legal process can be intimidating. However, depending on your circumstances and the decisions you make, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle. When filing for a Florida divorce (also called as “dissolution of marriage” in the state’s statutes), you have a few options:
- You can go the standard approach and hire an attorney right once to represent you.
- You can employ an online divorce service, which will send you completed forms (based on your responses to a questionnaire) and take you through the divorce procedure. However, keep in mind that these firms often exclusively deal with uncontested divorces. That means you and your husband must have already reached an agreement on all of the problems in your divorce, either independently or through mediation.
- You can also take the do-it-yourself approach and handle the divorce on your own. If you go this route, you must first learn about Florida’s requirements, including the forms you’ll need, where to file the documents, and what steps to follow next.
If you decide to go through with the divorce on your own, here’s some advise on how to get started.
Filing Out Your Divorce Paperwork
You’ll need to take the petition and additional forms (including a “summons”) to the circuit court clerk’s office in the county where you live after you’ve gathered and filled them out. On the state website, you may find a list of Florida’s circuit courts. Before filing with the court, you’ll need to get your petition notarized, so don’t sign anything until you can do so in front of a notary. For a modest cost, several courthouses offer notary services.
Unless you acquire a waiver based on your financial need, you’ll have to pay a filing fee. The cost of filing for divorce in Florida varies by county, but it is normally around $400. The clerk will provide you a date-stamped copy as proof of filing after your documents have been submitted. Make a copy of the documents for yourself and another copy for your spouse.
Your Forms Are Being Served
You will need to “serve” your spouse with the divorce papers you filed unless you are permitted to employ the simplified dissolution method (along with a blank answer form).
In Florida, there are a few options for serving your paperwork. By completing and filing a notarized “Answer and Waiver of Serving,” your spouse can consent to accept service of the dissolution petition. The petition will have to be served through the sheriff’s office in the county where your spouse lives if you don’t have a waiver. Special process servers are frequently appointed by the sheriff’s office to deliver the papers.
If you can’t find your spouse or if your spouse is in the military or incarcerated, there are alternative regulations and methods of service. Consult your court clerk for further information on these various types of service.
Both spouses will have to disclose precise details about their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities early in the divorce proceeding. Each of you must fill out the appropriate “Family Law Financial Affidavit” form for your situation (court’s self-help site; includes both a short and lengthy version with instructions), file it with the court, and serve a copy on the other spouse. This affidavit must be filed with the court, and a copy must be served on your spouse.
If you don’t include this affidavit with your petition (or answer), you’ll have to serve it on your spouse 45 days after the petition is served. You may not have to file the financial affidavit if you have no minor children, no support difficulties, and have filed a formal settlement agreement that settles all financial matters, according to the directions on the form.
You’ll need to produce supporting financial paperwork in addition to the affidavit, which includes:
- Source of income Proof
- Evidence of assets
- Proof of debts
- Submitting tax returns
- Bank statements
- Any additional paperwork mandated by Florida’s court requirements.
It’s critical that your financial declarations are complete and truthful. In a divorce proceeding, a partner who fails to reveal all accounts, debts, or assets may face penalties such as fines and possibly jail time.
Filing for Divorce in Georgia
If you’re filing divorce in Georgia, the legal process can be intimidating. However, depending on your circumstances and the decisions you make, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle. You can file for divorce on your own, using an online divorce service, or hire a professional to handle everything for you.
As we’ll see below, the decision you make between these possibilities is influenced by the circumstances of your position, as well as the time, money, and other resources you have available. If you’re thinking about doing it yourself, you’ll need to know Georgia’s standards, which include which forms you’ll need, where to file the documents, and what actions to follow next.
How to Get a Georgia Divorce
In order to petition for divorce in Georgia, either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for the previous six months. You might be able to achieve this residence requirement if you resided in another state as a couple before moving here six months ago and left your spouse behind. However, if your spouse never lived in Georgia, the judge may not be able to order your spouse to pay child support or alimony (spousal support), which could pose complications later in your divorce.
Getting Georgia Divorce Forms Ready
The most important document you’ll need to draft and file with the court is the divorce complaint. This is where you explain the court how you qualify for the divorce (residence and grounds) and what issues you want the court to decide on, including as alimony (spousal support), child custody, child support, and how your property and debts should be divided. You’ll fill out the form as the “plaintiff” if you’re the one who’s starting the divorce process (sometimes also referred to as the “petitioner” in Georgia). The “defendant” or “respondent” in your case is your spouse.
Where Should You File For Divorce?
In most cases, you’ll file your divorce complaint and related documents with the Superior Court clerk’s office in the county where your spouse resides. You may, however, file in your home county if:
- Your spouse is from a state other than Georgia, or
- Spouse relocated out of the county where you lived as a pair within the last six months (and you still live in that county).
In Georgia, some counties require you to submit your divorce paperwork online (even if you’re representing yourself), so check with the clerk’s office to learn more.
Serving Your Forms
Your forms must be “served on” (given to) your spouse once you have filed them. Personal service of divorce paperwork, including a summons, is required by Georgia law. If your spouse agrees to accept service informally, get a signed Acknowledgement of Service to file with the court. Otherwise, you’ll have to arrange for the documents to be served to your spouse by a sheriff or a licensed process server.
If you haven’t been able to physically serve your spouse or if your spouse lives out of state, inquire with the court clerk about obtaining permission to utilize an alternative means of service. You can also inquire about how to assist a spouse who is serving in the military or is incarcerated.
Steps to Take After a Georgia Divorce
Response to the Divorce Petition
Your spouse usually has 30 days to respond to the divorce paperwork after receiving it. The spouse may respond to your complaint with a “Answer,” in which he or she agrees or disagrees with whatever you wrote in the complaint. Alternatively, your husband may submit a “Response and Counterclaim.” A counterclaim is a divorce claim filed by your spouse against you, and it covers many of the same issues as the initial complaint.
Both spouses will be required to disclose extensive information about their income, expenses, assets, and obligations as part of the divorce procedure. A financial affidavit must be completed and submitted by each of you.
This document asks for a lot of information regarding your earnings and assets. It’s a good idea to gather as much of this information as you can ahead of time because it’s critical that you fill out this form completely. You must also be truthful. In a divorce proceeding, a partner who fails to reveal all accounts, debts, or assets may face penalties such as fines and possibly jail time.
Filing for Divorce in Pennsylvania
Starting a divorce lawsuit can be difficult, especially for people who are unfamiliar with the Pennsylvania court system. This article covers the fundamentals of filing for divorce in Pennsylvania.
Divorce in Pennsylvania
The document that starts the divorce procedure is known as a “complaint.” The “plaintiff” is the spouse who initiates the divorce by filing a complaint. The “defendant” is the opposite spouse.
Before you or your spouse can get a divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must meet residency criteria. Pennsylvania law stipulates that one spouse must reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. You can apply for divorce on one of three grounds once you’ve met Pennsylvania’s residency requirements:
- No fault and mutual consent divorce(3301(c)(1) forms)
- Divorce based on a one-year separation (3301(d) forms).
- Fault-based divorce
Divorces based on fault must be filed on certain reasons, such as desertion, adultery, bigamy, or excessive cruelty. In Pennsylvania, fault divorces are uncommon since obtaining a mutual agreement divorce or a divorce based on separation is usually speedier and less expensive than pursuing a blame divorce. However, marital fault, such as one spouse’s adultery, may have an impact on your divorce alimony award or property division.
Where Is the Divorce Filed?
Each county’s Court of Common Pleas hears family law disputes. You can file for divorce in either the plaintiff’s or defendant’s home county.
You must pay a court fee to file (submit) your divorce complaint and summons with the court when you file your divorce complaint and summons. If you can’t pay the charge, you can file a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, asking for the fees to be waived.
Divorce Papers are served
You’ll need to serve your spouse with the divorce papers once you’ve filed for divorce. There are requirements in Pennsylvania for proper service, which means you can’t just send your spouse divorce papers unless he or she chooses to receive them. To hand-deliver the summons and divorce complaint to your spouse, you will almost always need to engage a sheriff or process server.
Your divorce lawsuit can move forward if your spouse has been served.
Through divorce mediation or a settlement agreement, some couples are able to end their cases quickly and easily. Other situations involving difficult issues or where the couples cannot agree on custody or property split may need to go to trial.
What Should I Do If My Partner Files First for Divorce?
If you don’t answer swiftly to a divorce complaint, your spouse could get a default divorce against you. You should answer to all of your spouse’s claims in your Answer (reaction) and ask the judge for the exact results you desire, such as child custody, child support, alimony, property split, and/or attorney’s fees. Before you file your answer, you should seek legal guidance from a divorce attorney.
The Pennsylvania Legal Services website offers a variety of booklets, videos, and sample paperwork to help self-represented individuals navigate the divorce process. Pennsylvania Legal Aid provides additional legal assistance to low-income people who qualify.
While it is feasible to file for divorce on your own, it is not always the best option. When you have an uncontested case, no minor or dependent children, and limited assets, it’s the most practical option. However, if you have custody concerns or a large amount of property, you might be better off hiring a lawyer. Divorce rules might be difficult to understand. A good divorce lawyer will be familiar with the subtleties of the law as well as the court system’s ins and outs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better for the wife to file for divorce?
Is it beneficial to file for divorce first? Filing for divorce ahead of your husband gives you more control over the matter from the start and may provide you with some strategic options. You do not have any inherent rights over your spouse if you file for divorce first.
Who files for divorce first?
You will be the plaintiff and she will be the defendant if you file first. If your divorce case proceeds to trial, you will be the first to testify. You don’t need to worry about a justification while deciding whether to file.