Even in no-fault divorce states where dissolving a marriage is a matter of personal choice, a judge must supervise your divorce proceedings and sign off on your divorce agreement. A divorce is not granted until the court enters a final divorce decree.
A divorce not only dissolves the legal relationship between two adults, it can also divide property, allocate debt and radically rearrange the lives of minor children. For this reason, states have an interest in supervising the process. Although a couple can live apart without court approval, they cannot be granted a divorce unless they request a court to dissolve their marriage.
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Steps in Divorce
A divorce begins and ends with paper. One spouse begins a divorce by filing a petition asking the court to end the marriage and serving these papers on the other spouse. If the spouses come to a fair and equitable agreement about about property, support and child custody issues, the court will approve the settlement agreement. If a couple cannot agree or if the judge determines that the agreement is unfair, the court will make the decisions after a divorce trial. During this process, the divorce is said to be pending. When the court issues the final divorce judgment and order, the divorce is said to be granted.
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