The Divorce Process – excerpt from the Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook
By: Susan Shofer
Your divorce should take no more than two years, depending on court schedules, attorney schedules, and the complexities involving children, property, and other aspects of the settlement. Although some divorces may drag on for years, the average divorce typically takes about eighteen months from start to finish. We all know people who have been involved in divorces that are so long that they could vote in the next Presidential Election. Ok, maybe not that long but definitely too long. When a divorce drags on it’s because one or two things are happening. Either one or both parties enjoy the constant contention or one or both parties are unable to agree to a custody and/or property settlement. I know this sounds simple, but it really is. Think about it. If you really want to end a marriage why on Earth would you continue to send emails, texts, etc. to your soon to be ex-spouse about petty issues? Yet, it happens all the time and for years!
What exactly is the divorce process and what does it entail?
All divorces are not the same and people have a few options to choose from when they decide to divorce. The three most common options are mediation, settling out of court, and settling in court. All divorces begin by filing for divorce in the court jurisdiction where the couple lives. Because marriage is a legal civil contract, it must be dissolved in court. The final document will be called a Divorce Absolute.
Mediation takes place when two people forgo obtaining attorneys in order to collaborate with the use of a mediator. Obviously, this is the less expensive route. More importantly, it is the least contentious which is always better for everyone, the couple, and the children, involved.
Another divorce process option involves using legal counsel. Both parties acquire attorneys. One of the attorneys will file for the divorce. After the file, there will be interrogatories. The questions can be as few as ten or as many as one hundred. Because attorneys bill by the hour for time spent on the case, interrogatories are one of the most expensive parts of the process. It is a time-intensive process to develop the questions and to answer those received by the “other side.” After the interrogatories are complete, the attorneys will begin the process of settlement. In order to develop a settlement that satisfies both parties, there may be several settlement conferences. This is when both parties, along with their attorneys, address issues of child support, alimony, child custody and visitation/vacation schedules, the dissolution of property and assignment of financial responsibilities such as medical, dental, education, college, as well as others that are specific to their case. Decisions may be made rapidly, or it may take several meetings. Once a settlement is made that satisfies both parties, a date will be set to be heard in a judge’s chambers or before a judge in a courtroom.
When a couple is so contentious that they are unable to settle their case out of court, the case may be presented before a judge to determine the settlement. Once the judge makes the ruling, there is no turning back.
For more information on the Divorce Process or how to understand and ease your divorce process, read the Divorce Recovery Ladder Workbook. View the Table of Contents below: