Table of Contents:
- Step-by-Step Divorce Process in Oregon
- How to Divorce in Wisconsin
- How to File for a Divorce in Henry County, Georgia
- How to File for Divorce in Oklahoma
- How to Divorce in Alaska
- How Do I File for Divorce in Pennsylvania?
- Divorce Proceedings in Kansas
- Divorce in Hawaii
- How to File for Divorce in Nevada
- How to File for Divorce in Missouri
- How to File for Divorce in Henrico County, Virginia
- Divorce & Nebraska
- How to Get a Divorce in Illinois
- How to File for Divorce in Washington State
- How to Get Divorced in Texas
- How to File for a Divorce in Indiana
- How to File for a Divorce in Mississippi
- How to File for Divorce on Your Own in North Carolina
- How Do I File for Divorce in Ohio?
- How to File for Divorce in Arkansas
- How to File for a Divorce in Alabama
- How to File for Divorce in North Dakota
- How to File for Divorce in Wyoming
- How to Get Divorced in Florida
- How to File for Divorce in Massachusetts
- How to File for Divorce in the State of New York
- How to File for Divorce in Maryland
- Montana No-Fault Divorce Process
- How to File for Divorce in Delaware
- How to File for Divorce Through the State of Utah
- Divorce Procedures in New Jersey
- Divorce Procedures in Tennessee
Filing for Divorce
Oregon divorce cases begin when one spouse files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Summons. The petition must include certain items, including basic information about the marriage and a proposed arrangement for splitting property, dividing custody and any other terms the filing spouse wants included in the divorce. The filing spouse, called the plaintiff, must serve a copy of these documents on the other spouse, called the respondent. If the spouses have a settlement agreement in place or pending, they can file a joint petition. Otherwise, the respondent must file an answer to the plaintiff’s petition.
If either spouse needs temporary orders to govern the couple's conduct until the divorce is final, she can ask for those orders once the case is filed. Temporary orders may address a variety of marital issues, such as child custody or alimony, and requests for these orders are typically filed early in the proceedings.
Both spouses can initiate discovery, information gathering between spouses, during the early stages of the proceeding. This allows each spouse to have full information about the other spouse’s circumstances through fact-finding tools, such as depositions, written lists of questions, document requests, appraisals of marital property and expert evaluations.
If the couple has children, Oregon also requires both parents to attend a parenting education class.
Once the discovery period is complete, spouses may enter into negotiations in an attempt to reach a settlement on some or all of the terms of their divorce. Even if spouses reach a settlement on all terms, Oregon has a 90-day waiting period for divorce, beginning from the date the petition was served on the respondent spouse. The divorce cannot be finalized until the waiting period has expired.
If spouses do not reach agreement on all issues, they must proceed to trial and allow a judge to decide the issues on which they do not agree. Leading up to trial, status conferences, where the lawyers for both sides discuss scheduling and other procedural issues, as well as pretrial hearings often take place. At the trial itself, both sides present their case. After the judge hears all evidence, he will make a decision on all remaining contested issues.
Decide if you want an attorney. Wisconsin allows for both attorney-filed and "pro se" divorce cases. (In a pro se case you file on your own behalf.) If you and your spouse can't agree on any issue, you may be better served by getting an attorney. If you do not want an attorney, you and your spouse can file either jointly or individually.
Understand residency and fault requirements. A couple must have lived in Wisconsin for at least six months to obtain a divorce. However, only one of the spouses needs to have resided in the state for that long before filing for divorce. Also, Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state. That means no grounds for the dissolution of the marriage need be stated other than that one party believes the marriage to be irrevocably damaged, with no hope of repair.
File the appropriate forms. Wisconsin requires you to file both a divorce petition and a summons. These forms must be filed with the clerk of the court in the county where the person filing the petition lives.
Schedule the first hearing. Once a divorce petition is filed, the court will schedule the first hearing. This will usually happen within a couple of weeks of the filing, and will serve to set a timetable for the rest of the proceedings. Both parties and, if appropriate, their attorneys must be present at this hearing.
Understand the timeline. Getting a divorce in Wisconsin usually takes at least four months. However, if contested custody over children or other disputes are involved, it can take substantially longer.
Agree on terms. The parties to the divorce must agree to terms or have disputed terms settled by the court. Agreement must be reached on property, custody, child support and marital support before the divorce can be completed.
Finalize the divorce. After both parties have come to an agreement, or the court has decided on contested issues, the divorce can be finalized. Court approval of the divorce makes it official.
Visit a local law library or contact an online service from which the "Petition for Divorce" can be purchased or copied. Fill out the forms with all of the required information. The petition must be verified or notarized before it is filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court, located at:
Henry County Courthouse
No. 1 Courthouse Square
McDonough, GA 30253
Pay the filing fee for the divorce petition at the Office of the Clerk of the Superior Court. As of July 2010, the filing fee for petition for divorce is $206, and payment must be made by check, cash or money order.
Make arrangements with the Clerk of the Superior Court to have a copy of the filed petition for divorce served on your spouse by the Sheriff's Office in Henry County. As of July 2010, the Sheriff's Office charges $50 per copy served. If you do not wish to use the sheriff's services, look into having a private process server of your choice serve the divorce papers on your spouse. The return of service is an important piece of evidence in any lawsuit and it is worth a small expense to have it executed properly.
File a Petition for Divorce. The Petition for Divorce form is available at a county court in the district clerk's office. The petition must state the appropriate reason you are seeking a divorce. State in the petition what you seek in the divorce settlement, which may include child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of marital property and debt.
Pay the filing fee or apply for a fee waiver. Fees vary from county to county, so check with the district clerk in your county court for the appropriate fee.
Have your spouse served with divorce papers. A sheriff's deputy or special court officer will serve your spouse with the petition for divorce and court summons. Your spouse has 20 days to respond to the court summons.
Attend court for temporary orders. If you requested any temporary orders relating to child custody, child support, spousal support or marital property, you must go to court and testify about the need for these temporary orders. You must give your spouse at least five days' notice before the court appearance. You may obtain an emergency order for child custody without giving notice to your spouse if harm would come to you or your child by waiting. You must have a hearing within 10 days of the emergency order, and notice must be given to your spouse.
Attend trial. If you and your spouse are unable to reach a divorce settlement, you must attend a trial before a judge. Your divorce becomes final on the day you go to court.
Confirm that you meet the residency requirements to file for divorce or dissolution in Alaska by identifying yourself or your spouse as a resident of Alaska. The state generally identifies a resident as someone who lives in the state and intends to continue living there, unless either spouse meets the residency requirements for military service members.
Evaluate your relationship with your spouse and decide whether you can negotiate the legal issues related to property, financial support and children together and without a court order. If you can cooperate, negotiate all legal issues related to ending your marriage and include all of the terms in a written agreement. Submit the agreement to your local court for approval along with a completed dissolution packet — the Alaska court system provides dissolution forms and instructions for couples with and without children.
Obtain the Alaska Court System paperwork to start a divorce case if you and your spouse cannot agree on a dissolution. Review the self-help instructions provided by the court. Choose the paperwork that fits your personal situation — for example, the necessary forms vary if you have children with your spouse versus those you'll need if you don't. Complete each form required to start a divorce case, including a complaint, summons, forms related to property and financial matters and forms related to children, if any.
Make two copies of your completed forms. File the original forms and copies with the local court. Pay the required filing fees or apply for the exemption available in Alaska for people who lack the financial resources to pay.
Serve your spouse with the filed papers through certified mail with return receipt and restricted delivery. Alternatively, you can hire a process server to complete service of your divorce paperwork.
Wait at least 20 days after your spouse received the divorce paperwork. If your spouse filed a response with the court, review the response and decide whether you would like to provide the court with additional information or legal arguments.
Even if you and your spouse agree on all issues and have a dissolution agreement, you will likely need to appear at a court hearing before the judge signs the order to enter your agreement into the court record . If you cannot attend in person, submit a motion to the court with a request to participate in the hearing by telephone. Alternatively, if you cannot participate at all, file a motion with the court to request a waiver of your appearance.
Wait for the court to finalize your divorce or dissolution. Under Alaska law, a judge cannot sign a divorce or dissolution decree until a minimum of 30 days have passed since a spouse or both spouses filed the paperwork to start the case — the judge may sign the court order at your hearing, but you might need to wait and receive the papers in the mail, depending on your local court's practices.
If you plan to get divorced in Pennsylvania, first you must make sure you or your spouse meet the residency requirements. To file for divorce in Pennsylvania one party must be a Pennsylvania resident for at least six months before filing. You may file for divorce in your county of residence, your spouse's county of residence or the county in which the marital residence is located.
Pennsylvania requires grounds to file for divorce. The filing party, the Plaintiff, must state a reason why the marriage should end. Pennsylvania has both fault grounds and no-fault grounds.
No-fault grounds include institutionalization, where one spouse has a mental disorder that requires confinement. The confinement must already be in progress for at least 18 months and be likely to continue for at least an additional 18 months. Another no-fault ground is mutual consent, where the parties agree that their marriage is irreparably damaged with no possibility of reconciliation. A judge can grant the divorce, without a hearing, 90 days after papers are filed. Lastly, irretrievable breakdown is a no-fault ground used when parties have already been separated for two years and agree that their marriage is irreparably damaged.
Valid grounds for fault divorce in Pennsylvania include: (1) abandonment, meaning the other spouse has left the marital home for at least one year, with no intent to return; (2) cruel and inhuman treatment, meaning the filing spouse has been the victim of domestic violence; (3) adultery; (4) imprisonment, meaning the spouse has been found guilty of a crime and was sentenced to at least two years in prison; and (5) bigamy, your spouse is already married to another person.
You should have an attorney prepare your divorce papers, as the process can be difficult and it is important that everything is accurate. Pennsylvania requires that several documents be included in the divorce papers. They include: (1) a complaint for divorce; (2) a verification affidavit; (3) an income and expenses statement; (4) financial affidavits, including a net worth statement; (5) any petitions regarding child custody; (6) any petitions regarding child support; and (7) the uniform support petition, requesting spousal support or alimony.
Once you or your attorney have prepared the required documents, you must file the papers in the proper county with the Court Clerk for Pennsylvania's Court of Common Pleas. Once you have been assigned a case number you must have copies of all the divorce papers served on your spouse, now the Defendant.
Kansas, like many other states, no longer requires fault grounds for divorce. Instead, a spouse can file for divorce based on the no-fault ground of "incompatibility." Another no-fault ground for divorce is mental incapacity. If a spouse is mentally ill, has resided in a mental institution for two years and three doctors concur in the diagnosis, the other spouse can file for divorce. Lastly, while no longer required, fault grounds, including abandonment, abuse, adultery and habitual alcohol or drug use, are still available.
A spouse must file a petition for divorce in the district court located in one spouse's county of residence in order to begin the divorce process in Kansas. The court clerk's office will stamp the papers as filed and return a stamped copy to the filing spouse to serve on the other spouse. A process server must personally present the other spouse with the papers filed in order to provide him with notice of the pending divorce.
Each spouse is entitled to maintain ownership of any separate property owned prior to the marriage. The court will divide all marital property based on "equitable distribution," meaning in a fair, though not necessarily equal, manner. The court considers the value of any separate property awarded, each spouse's income, the spouses' ages, the length of the marriage, each spouse's role in acquiring the property, whether either spouse will receive alimony and whether either spouse attempted to sell or hide property during or immediately prior to the divorce.
The court may award alimony if one spouse does not have sufficient assets and income to be self-supporting. Alimony is paid by one spouse to the other based on the receiving spouse's financial need and the paying spouse's ability to make payments. Kansas law states that alimony can be awarded for no more than 121 months.
Kansas has a waiting period of 60 days before a divorce can be finalized. This means that unless there is some urgency, for example, a marriage involving domestic violence, a court cannot issue the final divorce decree until 60 days have passed from the date the petition for divorce was filed.
When it comes to splitting property between spouses, Hawaii is an "equitable distribution" state. This means the court can divide your property in a manner that is just and equitable, though not necessarily equal. The court considers several factors when dividing property, including the burdens placed upon each spouse for the children’s benefit, the spouses' circumstances after the divorce, the abilities and merits of each spouse, and any other circumstances the court finds relevant.
Hawaii courts decide custody as part of divorce, awarding physical custody -- where the children live -- and legal custody -- who makes important decisions for the child. Both physical and legal custody may be awarded as joint custody (both parents share custody) or sole custody (only one parent has custody). For example, a parent may get sole physical custody but joint legal custody, so the children would live with one parent but both parents make important decisions for the child, including where he goes to school.
Hawaii courts award custody in the best interests of the child, considering factors such as which parent has been the child’s main caretaker. If you and your spouse dispute custody, your judge will usually require a social study before deciding a custody arrangement. Social studies vary by island.
Hawaii calculates child support by considering the incomes of both parents, called the income shares model of child support. In Hawaii, the parent who does not receive custody -- or, if both parents have custody, the parent who makes more money -- will pay some amount of child support. Even a parent who does not have an income must pay at least $50 per month.
Unlike child support, Hawaii courts do not follow a set formula for awarding alimony, or spousal support, and alimony is not automatically awarded in every case. Instead, judges consider factors including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s ability to be self-supportive, each spouse’s age and condition, and each spouse’s earning capacity. Hawaii courts do not consider misconduct, such as adultery, when making alimony decisions.
Talk to your spouse to try to resolve issues of custody, visitation, support and division of property. In Nevada, the type of divorce petition you file depends on whether your matter is contested or you have an agreement.
Choose the appropriate complaint. Some counties, such as Clark County, offer the state’s various divorce petitions on their websites. If you have an agreement, you and your spouse can file a joint petition for divorce. If you need the court to sort things out for you, or if you’re not sure yet if this will be necessary, you can use the form for a complaint for divorce. Each category has two separate petitions: one if you have children and one if you do not.
Complete the petition you’ve chosen, filling in all pertinent information. Nevada is a no-fault state, so you can either file on grounds of irreconcilable differences or after a one-year separation. If you’re doing this by hand, use black ink. You can also type in the information. If you choose a joint petition, fill in all the terms of the agreement you’ve reached. Both you and your spouse should sign the joint petition. If you file a complaint, only your signature is required.
Complete a family court cover sheet, also available on Nevada county websites. This two-page document requires basic identifying information regarding your case and you, your spouse and your children, if you have any.
File your complaint or petition with the court, along with the family court cover sheet. You can do this in the county where you live, where your spouse lives or where you and your spouse last lived together. If you file a complaint, the clerk will issue you a summons at the time you file.
Serve your spouse with a copy of your summons and complaint if the two of you did not file a joint petition. If you and your spouse filed a joint petition together, you do not have to serve each other. Nevada requires that you have a third party give it to him. Your spouse can then either sign an acceptance of service, or the third party can sign an affidavit of service, confirming that she gave him your complaint. File the confirmation of service with the court.
Make sure you can file in the state in the first place. Did you just move to Missouri? If you've been in the state for less than 90 days, you'll have to file elsewhere because you must be resident for at least that period of time to even begin the process.
File for petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court. If Step 1 is doable, you'll want to start by filing. Papers will be drawn up, and your spouse will be served. It can go one of two ways at this time: The other party agrees and signs, or the party disagrees and refuses to move the process forward. If its mutual on all fronts, matters of property, debt, child custody, and support will be finalized at a later date in court. If not, there are additional steps.
Establish motivation for divorce. If there is a dispute over the divorce, the filing party must prove one or more reasons for dissolution: adultery, behavior that makes it unreasonable to stay with the spouse (such as abuse), abandonment for at least six months, voluntary separation for more than a year, and any separation that goes on for more than two years.
Get a hearing set. At this point, the court will set a hearing. It will suggest counseling. In addition, if an agreement can't be reached regarding children, a request can be made for temporary solutions, such as temporary custody and child support orders. A guardian will also be appointed to the children until the quarrel is resolved. Keep in mind that these additional services must be shared equitably. The sooner you agree, the less money you'll pay in additional fees. That could save you thousands.
Keep in mind assets will be divided equitably. This isn't completely a straight split down the middle. Some items, such as gifts, are not thrown into the pool of assets to be divided. Other things will be taken into account when dividing property, such as the economic circumstances of each person, their contribution to the property, their conduct, and the custodial arrangement.
Attend that trial. It seems simple, but this is not the point to be late or make some sort of statement about your absence. This is the time when everyone must appear, and final judgments will be made. At this point, the dissolution of marriage can be finalized.
Establish that you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In order to have your case heard in the Circuit Court for Henrico County, you must show that you have been a Virginia resident for at least six months. You may be asked to provide documentation of this with a driver's license, state ID, lease, mortgage papers or utility bills.
Prove that you and your spouse maintained separate residences in Virginia. If your grounds for divorce are voluntary separation and do not have children with your spouse, you need to prove that you and your spouse lived separately, within the Commonwealth, for no less than six months before you filing for divorce. If you have minor children, you need to prove that you have lived separately for at least one year.
File a copy of your separation agreement with the Circuit Court of Henrico County. The court will need to see the terms under which you and your spouse voluntarily separated. This includes property settlement agreements, child custody and visitation arrangements and documentation regarding how you divided your joint bank accounts and debts during the separation period.
Show that your spouse committed adultery, abandonment or is involuntarily committed or incarcerated. If any of these situations apply to your marriage, you don't need to show any proof of separation.
Draft a divorce petition to file with the Clerk of the Court. The petition must list you and your spouse's street address in Henrico County, your grounds for divorce, the date that you first separated and all request for child support, alimony, child custody and visitation.
Serve the petition on your spouse using a private process server or sheriff. Your spouse will have 21 days to file a written response with the Circuit Court once he or she has been formally served.
Attend your hearing, and make your case before the Commissioner in Chancery. Both you and your spouse may subpoena witnesses and present documents at your divorce hearing.
Obtain your decree from the Commissioner in Chancery and file it with the Henrico County Clerk of the Court. If the commissioner recommends that your divorce be granted, the clerk will forward the decree to a judge, who will formally finalize your divorce.
When dividing a couple's assets, Nebraska is an equitable distribution state. This means that Nebraska courts divide a couple's assets without using a precise formula, but rather look at each case to decide what would be a fair distribution of assets based on the circumstances. Generally, courts try to split a couple's assets "relatively equally," with each spouse receiving between one-half and one-third of the couple's joint assets.
Courts in Nebraska may award "reasonable" alimony to provide for the financial needs of a former spouse, in light of his or her circumstances. In making this determination, the court considers a variety of factors, including the contributions of each spouse to the marriage and care of any children, and the extent to which raising children might have interfered with a spouse's ability to pursue education and a career. In Nebraska, courts don't use alimony simply to equalize the income of the parties.
Nebraska courts award both physical and legal custody of minor children by assessing each spouse's parental fitness. If both parents are fit, the court may award both parents legal and physical custody in an arrangement called "joint custody." When awarding custody, the court considers each parent's moral character, emotional ties between each parent and child, child's preference as well as any other relevant factor. Courts award custody without considering the gender of the parents.
Nebraska courts may order one former spouse to pay child support to the other. In making this award, courts consider each parent's earning capacity. Courts may modify the amount of child support as required, for example, when a parent earns more money after the divorce than he did before or when the cost of supporting a child had risen. When a court does not award custody of a child to the child's mother, it may require the mother to pay child support.
File your petition with the court in the county where either you or your spouse currently live, then make sure she gets a copy through a legally-approved means. This is "process of service." Illinois allows you to have the sheriff in the county where your spouse lives deliver it to her, or you may hire a private process server. She has 30 days within which to file a response to your petition with the court, but she can request an extension.
Tell the court if you need any temporary orders while your divorce is pending, such as for child support or help paying the household bills. When your spouse answers your petition, the court will schedule a case management conference that both of you must attend. Use this opportunity to tell a judge or court official what you need. If you and your spouse are in conflict regarding parenting time, the court will also enter an order obligating you to attend mediation to try to work it out.
Begin discovery efforts to make sure you know everything there is to know about your spouse’s finances. Discovery can include a request for copies of all her financial documents, or interrogatories, which are lists of written questions she must answer. You can also conduct depositions, during which you can ask her questions under oath. This involves hiring a court reporter to take everything down. If you want to take this route, consult with a professional first to find out how to go about it.
Meet with your spouse -- several times, if necessary -- to try to come to an agreement regarding your property, support issues and custody. If you can, put it into written form, sign it, have it notarized and submit it to the court. The court will schedule a final hearing for your divorce.
Let the court know if you have not yet come up with a parenting plan through mediation, or if there are any other outstanding issues between you and your spouse. The court will schedule a pre-trial conference so you can meet with the judge who will hear your case if it goes to trial. The judge will also try to help you settle. If he fails, the court will schedule a trial and the judge will decide the terms of your divorce for you.
Complete the required forms. To file for divorce in Washington State, you'll need to complete a Summons, Petition for Dissolution, Confidential Information Form, and a vital statistics form. All but one of these forms are available on the Washington State Courts Website. See resources below for a link to these free forms. The vital statistics form is for purposes of state records when your divorce is finalized and you can fill this out at the clerk's office when you go to file your divorce. To complete these forms, you'll need basic biographic information for you and your spouse, including full names, dates and places of birth, social security numbers, date and place of marriage, and names and birth dates of any children born of the marriage. Washington is a no-fault divorce state, which means you won't have to say why you are filing for divorce. The petition only needs to include bare-bones information, and all you need to say is that "the marriage is irretrievably broken."
Find out what supplemental forms are required, if any. In some counties, to file for divorce you'll also need to fill out a cover sheet to clarify jurisdiction (e.g., which county or courthouse should handle the case) and identify the case type.
Take the completed divorce forms to the county courthouse of the jurisdiction you live in. You'll need to present the original, signed forms to the clerk for filing. It's very important to keep photocopies of these documents, since they will need to be served on your spouse in order to get the divorce started. The divorce can't be finalized without serving your spouse. You'll need to pay the filing fee, which can also vary by county but is usually between $200 and $250. If you can show proof of financial hardship, the filing fee can often be waived. You'll need to inquire about this with the clerk of the court in your county.
Once you've filed the Washington State divorce papers, you'll need to have them personally served on your spouse. If your spouse is in agreement with the divorce, or if he or she isn't likely to become unruly or belligerent, anyone can personally hand the forms to your spouse - as long as it's not you, or a minor. A friend or family member can serve the papers. Or, your spouse can sign a form called an Acceptance of Service (also available on the Washington State divorce forms site). This Acceptance of Service, or a Declaration of Service by the person who hands the documents to your spouse, will need to be presented to the court clerk for filing.
It will take at least 90 days from the time you file until you can finalize your divorce in Washington State. You should be aware that there are many steps to filing a divorce in Washington State; filing is just the beginning. If your case is very simple, for example if there are no children involved, there is little property to divide, or if both parties are in agreement about the terms of the divorce, you can probably do fine representing yourself pro se. Otherwise, you'd be wise to consult with a qualified divorce attorney in Washington State. You don't want to miss important case deadlines or sign documents that you don't understand, which could put custody of your children or a fair division of assets at risk.
You or your spouse must live in Texas for at least six months before filing for divorce and in the county for at least 90 days. Before then, the court does not have jurisdiction over the case, which means that it cannot hold a hearing or make a decision. Active duty military members can file for divorce in Texas if they have been stationed there long enough. If your home of record is Texas but you are stationed in another state or overseas, you have the right to file in Texas if you wish.
Starting the Process
Every Texas divorce begins by filing a petition for divorce at the county courthouse where you live and paying the filing fee. In the petition, you must state the identity of the parties, whether or not there are children, and what you want the court to decide. If appropriate, you may list grounds such as adultery or abandonment but stating that the marriage has become "insupportable" is sufficient for a Texas judge to grant a divorce.
Your Spouse's Response
Your spouse is entitled to receive a copy of the petition. In an uncontested divorce where both spouses agree that a divorce is needed, you can simply hand your spouse a copy of the petition or mail it to him. He should file a waiver of citation that tells the judge he does not want to be formally served. If, on the other hand, he wants to fight the divorce, you must arrange for a sheriff or other third party to serve him formally. The process server will file an affidavit with the court stating the date and time of service. If your spouse does nothing after he is formally served, the judge can make a decision in the case without his input. Otherwise, he should file a written answer within the time period stated on the court documents.
Finalizing an Uncontested Divorce
If you and your spouse can agree on the issues related to the divorce, you could be divorced as soon as 61 days after the petition was filed. You or your attorney must prepare a final decree of divorce that spells out the details of the property division; where the children will live; how often the other parent may visit; and how much child support will be paid. At least one party must go to the final hearing, either with or without an attorney. If the judge approves the final decree of divorce, she will sign it and grant the divorce.
Finalizing a Contested Divorce
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the issues, the judge can listen to the evidence and make the decisions for you. You may represent yourself at the trial or hire an attorney. After hearing both sides, the judge will decide child-related issues based on the best interests of the children. If you ask the judge to decide about the property division, debts, spousal support, and other financial issues, she can take into account other factors such as the age, health, and income of each party.
Meet the residency requirements. Before you can file for divorce in Indiana, either you or your spouse must have been a legal resident in the state for at least three months. You need not have been married in the state, but you must file in the county in which either you or your spouse meet the residency requirement.
Download the appropriate forms packet from the Indiana Courts' website (see Resources section below). The site will prompt you with a few questions, such as whether you and your spouse have children and whether you are in complete agreement as to all terms of the divorce, in order to determine which forms are appropriate for your case.
Complete the forms, which are self-explanatory and can be completed without the assistance of an attorney. Basically, they request the names and addresses of you and your spouse, whether there is jointly owned property to be divided, and whether you have minor children. As the petitioner, you can stipulate how you'd like the property to be divided and the custody and spousal support issues to be settled, but the court may ultimately alter your preferences before the divorces is finalized. You can also request temporary orders for these issues while the divorce is pending.
File the petition and pay the appropriate fee (between $132 and $152, as of March 2010). Take the originals and two copies to the state courthouse in the county in which either you or spouse have resided for at least the last three months. The clerk will provide the case number and stamp the forms with a filing date. Mail a stamped copy of the forms to your spouse's attorney.
Attend the provisional hearing as needed. If you and your spouse agree completely on the terms of the divorce, there is no need for a provisional hearing. The hearing is where you or your spouse can ask the court for temporary orders granting child custody, child support or visitation rights while the divorce is pending.
Draft your complaint. The official document you file with the court asking it to grant a divorce is called a complaint in Mississippi, though it is sometimes referred to as a petition. Your complaint must state the nature of your case, the names of the people involved, what you're asking the court to do and any other relevant information required by the law. You need to ensure all the information in your complaint is accurate and true to the best of your knowledge, as it is an official document that must be sworn to before a notary or other state official.
File your divorce papers. Once your petition is prepared, you must file it with the appropriate court. Which court with which you file your petition depends on such factors as which party meets the state's residency requirements and the reasons for which the divorce is sought. In any case, you can file in the county in which the defendant resides, regardless of the reasons or which party meets the minimum residency requirements.
Notify the spouse. Once your petition is filed with the county clerk, you must serve an official copy of the divorce petition on your spouse. Your spouse can waive the service by filing an affidavit of consent with the court clerk in the county where the complaint is filed, or you can achieve service through any means allowed under state law.
Meet North Carolina residency requirements. One or both spouses must reside in North Carolina for at least six months immediately preceding the divorce petition. In addition to residing in North Carolina, the couple must live apart for at least one year. These requirements are absolute. Couples who do not meet the residency requirements must wait to file the divorce petition.
Determine the grounds for divorce. North Carolina allows two grounds for divorce. Separation requires the couple to live apart for at least one year with at least one spouse living in North Carolina for six months. Incurable insanity requires mental incapacity, which prevents cohabitation for three years prior to the filing of the divorce petition. A majority of North Carolina marriages end due to separation of one year.
Complete the divorce complaint, “Domestic Civil Action” cover sheet and “Civil Summons.” Plaintiffs can obtain the documents from the Clerk of the Court’s office in their county. The forms also are available online. Access the Legal Aid of North Carolina website and choose “Self-Help Resources at LawHelp/NC.” Select the “Family and Juvenile” link and choose “Divorce, Separation, Marriage, Annulment.” Sign the complaint in the presence of a notary.
File the petition at the clerk’s office and pay the filing fee. As of April 2011, divorce filing fees are $90 plus an additional $10 fee for the restoration of a maiden name. A “Petition to Sue/Appeal as an Indigent” form is available for those who cannot afford the fee. Sign the indigent form in the presence of a notary.
Inform your spouse of the divorce through a service process initiated by the county sheriff. As of April 2011, the service process fee is $15 for each item the sheriff serves to the defendant. Service fees are waived if the plaintiff’s indigent form is approved.
Wait 30 days from the date your spouse is served and request a hearing date. Complete a “Notice of Hearing” form once the hearing date is set and mail it to your spouse via first class mail. You must complete an affidavit of service if sending by certified mail.
Complete a “Judgment for Absolute Divorce,” “Certificate of Absolute Divorce” and “Testimony” form. Attend the hearing and indicate all divorce requirements have been met. Wait for the final decree.
What Is Needed to File in Ohio
In order to file for divorce in the state of Ohio, there are certain criteria that must be met. The person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) must have been living in the state and considered a resident for at least six consecutive months prior to the filing. He or she also has to have been a resident of the county in which the divorce is filed for at least 90 days. Alternatively, both the plaintiff and the spouse (the defendant) have been living in the county in which the divorce was filed for at least 90 days. The only other criteria is that there are "grounds" for divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Ohio
The grounds, or legal reasons, that a divorce can be filed in Ohio can be listed under "no fault" and "fault." No fault reasons are incompatibility and living separately and apart without living together for one year. There are nine "fault" reasons for divorce. They are bigamy (having another spouse), the willful absence of one of the parties from the home for a minimum of one year, adultery, extreme cruelty (defined by Ohio law), fraudulent contract (as defined by the law), gross neglect of duty (such as failure to support the family), habitual drunkenness, if the adverse party is in prison (federal or state) at the time of the filing or if the divorce is out of state.
The Process of Divorce
Once the complaint has been filed with the Court of Common Pleas and any minor children have been appointed a guardian, the process of the divorce can get started. The defendant must answer the complaint admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint. If denying, the defendant can raise defenses and also file a counterclaim. If this is done, the plaintiff must also reply. If the defendant doesn't respond to the complaint, a default judgment for the plaintiff can be ordered. While the case is pending, either party can file for temporary custody of any children or file for spousal support. Psychological and psychiatric evaluations of the spouse and/or children can also be requested. A pretrial hearing will be held to determine if a mutual resolution can be reached. If not, then dates will be set for further hearings and date set for the trial. At the trial, a judge will hear from both parties and expert witnesses. He will hear all reports gathered and review other evidence before rendering a judgment based on the evidence and the law. Appeals can be made.
Select your grounds for asking the court to grant you a divorce. A divorce may be granted because of the fault of a spouse. For example, the spouse has committed adultery, a felony, or engaged in domestic or sexual abuse of a family member, including a spouse. A divorce may also be granted through no-fault of either party. For example, a married coupled who have been continuously separated for 18 months without reconciliation are eligible for a divorce.
Draft a Complaint for Divorce. The complaint must indicate the residential address for both you and your spouse and state how long each of you have been a resident of Arkansas. State the date on which you and your spouse were married. If possible, attach a copy of your marriage certificate to the complaint. Indicate the date on which you and your spouse separated. The complaint must also explain the reason (i.e., ground) why you are seeking a divorce. Indicate whether you and your spouse have entered into a marital agreement regarding assets, debts and/or child custody. End the complaint by asking the judge to order a divorce from your spouse. You must declare, under penalty of perjury, that the statements in the complaint are known to be true to you. The complaint must be signed by you in the presence of a notary public and then notarized.
File the Complaint for Divorce in the chancery court in the county in which you reside. The filing fee is $140 as of 2010. If you are suffering financial difficulties and you cannot afford the filing fee, you may petition the court for a waiver of the fee (see Resources). The petition for waiver of the filing fee must be made and granted before filing your Complaint for Divorce. After your complaint is filed, the court clerk will issue a summons. The summons and complaint must be served on your spouse, the defendant, by certified mail with return receipt requested.
Make a Marital Settlement Agreement with your spouse. This agreement should be signed and notarized by both of you. The document should settle the issues in your divorce such as child custody, child support, spousal support and the division of marital property and debts.
Go to the circuit court in the county where you wish to file for divorce. See the circuit court clerk for the forms you will need to complete.
File the Complaint for Divorce and the Summons. The Complaint form states who the parties are and that you are requesting a divorce. The Summons is a document that gives notice to your spouse that you are filing for divorce.
Fill out any additional forms as required by your particular court. Each circuit court may have different forms, in addition to your initial Complaint and Summons forms. If you have minor children with your spouse, you must fill out forms relating to child custody and support as detailed in your marital settlement agreement.
Pay the filing fee or apply for a fee waiver. Fees vary from court to court.
Serve your spouse with the divorce complaint and summons. Once your spouse has been served, your case is officially filed.
Decide if you need a lawyer. The North Dakota Supreme Court website provides a short questionnaire to help you determine if you can proceed with your divorce without a lawyer or if you will need professional representation. Generally, if you have no children and do not have significant assets or debts, you can file for divorce on your own. If you decide you can represent yourself, there are a number of legal services providers that can make the job of drafting your documents easier. If you decide you need a lawyer, contact the State Bar Association of North Dakota and ask to be referred to a lawyer who specializes in family law.
Fulfill residency requirements. You can file for divorce in North Dakota only if you have lived in the state for at least six months. If you have not lived in North Dakota long enough, you must wait until you fulfill the residency requirements or file for divorce in the state where you are a resident.
Determine which district court has jurisdiction. In North Dakota, district courts grant divorces. Every county in North Dakota will have a district court. By district court rule, if your spouse also lives in North Dakota, file your divorce paperwork in the county district court where your spouse lives. If your spouse does not live in North Dakota, file in the county where you live.
Draft a summons. A summons is a document that notifies your spouse that you have filed for divorce. You must serve your spouse with the summons even if she already agrees to the divorce. The North Dakota Supreme Court provides a summons form for your use. First fill out the county name, then fill in your name in the “plaintiff” blank and your spouse’s name in the “defendant” blank. Do not fill in the case number portion -- the clerk will do that. Ask the clerk of the district court sign and date your summons.
Draft a complaint. A complaint is the document you use to ask the court for a divorce. This form is also available on the North Dakota Supreme Court website. Fill in the top of the form -- known as the caption -- just like you did on the summons. The complaint must contain the following information: the date and location you were married, a statement that you and your spouse have no children together, a statement about your joint property and a statement that tells the court that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. In the complaint, you will formally request that the court dissolve your marriage, equitably divide your property and assign your debts, and grant any other relief the court deems necessary. You must sign your complaint.
Complete the verification. The North Dakota Supreme Court provides a verification form to accompany your complaint. On the verification form you will confirm that everything in your complaint is true. Sign the verification in the presence of a notary and have it notarized.
Draft an “admission of service.” This document allows your spouse to acknowledge to the court that she has been served with the summons and complaint.
Copy, serve and file your documents. Make two copies of everything you have drafted so far. Give your spouse a copy of the summons, complaint and admission of service. You may serve the documents to your spouse yourself, or have the sheriff serve the documents. File the summons, complaint and verification with the clerk of the district court.
Wait. The ball is now in your spouse’s court. Once your spouse responds to your complaint, or files an “answer,” you can start working out your property settlement, draft your divorce decree and set a date for a final hearing before a judge.
To obtain a divorce in Wyoming, the person filing the complaint for divorce, also known as the Plaintiff, must have lived in the state for a period of at least 60 days prior to filing. As an alternative, if the parties were married in the state but have not lived in Wyoming for 60 days, the residency requirement may be fulfilled if either person lived in the state from the date of marriage up to the date of filing the complaint. While the law provides that the filing party can request a legal separation instead of divorce, a divorce can be granted without legal separation.
Starting the Process
A divorce in Wyoming begins with the filing of a Complaint for Divorce with the Clerk of the District Court in the county where either spouse resides. Along with the complaint, the court requires a vital statistics form, summons and payment of the filing fee. Information that needs to be in the complaint includes the full names and residences of both spouses, whether the couple has any minor children, and an acknowledgment that irreconcilable differences exist between the parties. Both spouses must also make certain disclosures regarding property and other finances for the purposes of division. Any settlement agreement regarding these issues should be included as part of the complaint and will become part of the divorce decree, if approved.
Once the plaintiff has filed the appropriate paperwork, it must be served on the other spouse to ensure proper notice of the divorce. Service is accomplished in Wyoming by sheriff or having the receiving party sign an Acknowledgment and Acceptance of Service form. Following service, the respondent has 20 days to respond with an Answer if present in the state, or 30 days if living outside of the state. If the respondent fails to file an Answer, the filing party can ask for a default divorce by filing an Application for Entry of Default and Affidavit of Plaintiff in Support of Default. However, the judge may still schedule a hearing before entering a default divorce decree.
Finalizing the Divorce
If both parties can reach agreement on the material terms of the divorce, including custody and care of minor children and distribution of assets, they may file an Affidavit for Divorce without Appearance of Parties. After review, the court will decide whether to grant the divorce or proceed to a hearing. If the court schedules a hearing, the court will ask questions related to how long the parties have lived in the state and why they believe that irreconcilable differences exist in the marriage. The judge may also ask questions related to any minor children, property and finances.
File the divorce petition. Either spouse or his/her attorney can file this petition, which states the intention to divorce and lists desires regarding child support, custody, alimony and/or division of property and debts. Divorce in Florida is no fault. This means that spouses do not have to prove wrongdoing. The only requirement for divorce is that at least one party is a Florida resident and that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." One party must reside in Florida for the six months immediately prior to the divorce petition.
Serve the other partner with the divorce papers. A process server will usually do this. This partner or his/her attorney must file an answer to the divorce petition within 20 days, addressing the filing partner's wishes and any other matters.
Provide financial documentation and a completed financial affidavit to the other party within 45 days of service of the divorce petition.
File a child support guidelines worksheet. This must be filed before any hearing on child support.
Write up the divorce agreement and present it to a judge. If spouses agree on the conditions of the divorce either before or shortly after the petition is filed, the divorce agreement is written up and presented to a judge to be finalized. This is called an uncontested divorce.
Work with a mediator if you are unable to agree on divorce conditions (a contested divorce).
Escalate the matter to the courts, if necessary. If mediation does not work, the matter is sent to the courts. The judge will make a final decision on the contested issues.
Download the appropriate divorce complaint for the grounds you've chosen. Forms are available from Massachusetts county websites, as well as the Internet. Massachusetts requires that you print the complaint on acid-free, bonded paper; copy paper won’t do. Complete the complaint form and attach a certified copy of your marriage license.
Collect and complete the other forms you will need. These include an R408 form, which will notify Massachusetts’ Registry of Vital Records when your divorce is final, and a financial statement. The financial statement details your income, assets and debts. Both forms are also available on the county websites. Print the financial statement on pink paper and double-sided, so the second page appears on the back of the first.
Access and complete the two additional forms you'll need if you have children. The first is a mandatory disclosure statement telling the court which parent they live with. The second is a worksheet the court will eventually use to calculate child support. This is similar to the financial statement you’ve filled out, but focuses more on your income. Print it out the same way you did the financial statement, but on yellow paper.
Include a copy of your marital settlement agreement with your paperwork, if you’re filing for a no-fault divorce and have already come to terms about how you’re going to deal with property distribution and issues regarding your children. Massachusetts law requires that your settlement agreement mention alimony, even if it’s not a factor in your case. If it's not, just state that both you and your spouse waive your right to receive it.
Take all your paperwork to the Probate and Family Court in the county where you lived when you were married. If neither you or your spouse still live there, use the county where you live now. File your paperwork with the court clerk. There’s a filing fee, and Massachusetts requires that you pay it with either a money order or a bank check; you can’t use a personal check. If you can’t afford the fee, ask the clerk for an Affidavit of Indigency. The court will waive your fee if your income falls below 125 percent of the poverty level, or if you’re on public assistance.
Locate a form for a New York verified complaint for divorce. They’re available from several websites, including those of New York’s court system and some attorneys who practice in the state. The court system's website also offers helpful instructions.
Complete your complaint, filling in all pertinent information regarding you, your spouse and your marriage. Select your ground for divorce. At the end of the form, you’ll see a section that calls for “ancillary relief.” The first relief you’re asking for is a divorce; the ancillary or second relief you’re requesting is for the court to issue a ruling regarding the things that matter to you. Include in the ancillary relief section any requests you have for child support, custody, spousal support and property distribution.
Sign your complaint in the presence of a notary and take the original and two copies to the Supreme Court in your county for filing. New York also allows you to file in the county where you work. The court clerk will accept your original and return the copies to you, marked with an index number that registers your divorce action.
Ask the court clerk for Form UD-3 when you’re at the courthouse filing your complaint. This is a “Sworn Statement for Removal of Barriers to Remarriage” and is only for use if you were married in a religious ceremony. If you were married in a civil ceremony, you don’t need it. It relieves your spouse of any religious obligation to you, so he can move on with his life.
Complete Form UD-3 and have someone mail it to your spouse. You cannot do this yourself, and the person you choose must be a legal adult. He will have to sign a statement attesting that he’s mailed the form. You can get this statement from the court clerk and after he's signed it, you must return it to the court.
Arrange to have your verified complaint served on your spouse. You can use the same person you asked to mail your Form UD-3, but your complaint must be hand-delivered. You can also hire a process server. The most reputable of these have listings in the telephone directory. Under New York law, you cannot have your complaint delivered to your spouse on a Sunday. If you don’t know where your spouse is, contact the court and ask about an alternate means of service. Provisions for this vary from county to county.
Confirm that you meet the residency requirements. Either the grounds for the divorce must have occurred in Maryland or one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for one year immediately prior to the filing of the complaint for divorce.
Determine in what court you will file the complaint. The complaint can be filed in the county where the plaintiff (you) live or in the county where the respondent (your spouse) lives, works or owns a business.
Decide what grounds you are claiming and that you meet the separation period requirements pursuant to those grounds. Desertion, constructive desertion, voluntary separation and conviction of a felony require a 1-year separation before you can file for divorce in Maryland. Adultery, cruelty or vicious conduct grounds allow you to file for divorce immediately upon separation. Using the grounds of a 2-year separation (nonvoluntary separation) requires a 2-year separation and using insanity grounds requires that your spouse be committed to a mental institution for at least three years and that you have been living in Maryland for two years.
Prepare the complaint for divorce and a summons that will notify your spouse that you have initiated the proceedings. All the forms that you will need, including the complaint, can be found on the Maryland Judiciary's website (see Resources).
File the complaint and summons with the clerk of court and pay the required filing fee.
Montana is a no-fault divorce state, which means that parties need not prove that one spouse was the cause of the collapse of the marriage. However, the party initiating the action needs to prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. This can be demonstrated by evidence showing that the parties have lived separate and apart for more than 180 days or that there is "serious marital discord that adversely affects the attitude of one or both of the parties towards the marriage." Although it usually takes longer, a divorce can be ordered as soon as 20 days after the petition is served.
To obtain a divorce in Montana, the parties must show that they meet the residency requirements; at least one spouse must have been domiciled in the state at the time the petition for dissolution was filed. To commence the divorce process, a petition for dissolution needs to be filed with the Clerk of District Court in the county of residence. The petition must include both spouses' ages, occupations and residence information, the date of the marriage and place of marriage registration. They are also required to provide facts indicating that either they have been separated for 180 days or that serious marital discord exists. If the spouses do not dispute the claims made in the petition, they can file jointly.
Additional forms may be required in some cases. Couples with children must file a parenting plan. The Montana court urges couples to attend mediation and it can be ordered in some cases. Once all of the documents have been completed, the non-filing spouse must be served with the paperwork. This can be accomplished by mail, through the local sheriff's office or by a process server, or if all other methods fail, by newspaper publication.
In many instances, a trial can be avoided. If no material issues between the parties remain in dispute, each spouse can sign a Marriage Settlement Agreement. This agreement constitutes a binding contract and, if approved by the judge, is enforceable on the issues of property and debt division, spousal maintenance, and child custody and support. However, if disagreement persists, a hearing will be scheduled and a judge will make a ruling and issue a final divorce decree.
Be sure that you meet the requirements for a divorce in Delaware. You or your spouse must have lived in Delaware for at least six months before filing the divorce action. You and your spouse must also be separated for at least six months before you file the divorce. For the purposes of a Delaware divorce, "separated" does not necessarily mean you live in different residences -- you can share the same house, but sleep in separate bedrooms.
Fill in the party name and contact information at the top of page one of the Petition for Divorce/Annulment. Next, in Section I of the petition, complete the residency requirements in paragraph one. After filling in your birth date and occupation, complete the residency information for your spouse in paragraph four. Complete paragraphs five and six by providing your spouse's date of birth and occupation. Paragraph seven requires that you give the address where your spouse is most likely to receive mail. Indicate your spouse's citizenship in paragraph eight.
Enter your weddng date in paragraph 9a. In paragraph ten enter the date that you and your spouse were separated. Complete the children-related questions in paragraph 11. In paragraph 12, indicate whether or not you have previously filed for divorce. In paragraph 13 of Section II, which deals with the specific reasons for the divorce, check whatever reason applies. You must also check the box in paragraph 14, indicating that there is no chance of reconciliation.
Check the applicable boxes in Section IV, starting what relief you are seeking from the court. You can ask for specific financial payments such as property division, court costs and attorney's fees. You can also request a name change, if applicable. Sign the petition at the bottom of page five. At the top of page six, choose whether you would like a hearing, if your spouse does not contest the divorce. Sign the Verification on page six in the presence of the clerk of the court or a notary public.
Complete the Information Sheet, Form 240, providing the court with basic information about the parties. Complete the Division of Public Health/Vital Statistics form, Form 441. Get a certified copy or original of your marriage certificate to be included with the filing of the divorce petition. The Family Court does not maintain marriage certificates, so you must get it from the county in which you were married.
Fill in the Request for Notice form, Form 400. This information lets the court know how you want to give your spouse notice of the divorce action.
Complete any of the remaining forms that apply to your situation, for example, the forms relating to children's rights, the separation agreement, the financial report, and so on.
File the original and one copy of the divorce petition and all accompanying forms -- including the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate -- with the Family Court for the county where you or your spouse reside. It is only necessary to file one copy of the Division of Public Health/Vital Statistics Form 441 with the court. Pay the required filing fee at that time.
You must have a reason for your divorce -- called grounds for divorce. In Utah, possible grounds include adultery, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect and irreconcilable differences. A divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences is considered a “no-fault” divorce, in which neither spouse must prove the other is at fault for the divorce. Other grounds are considered “fault” grounds; a spouse who files for divorce on fault grounds must provide evidence to support her case. For example, if you file for divorce based on adultery, you must be able to prove to the court that your spouse had an adulterous affair.
A divorce case begins when one spouse, the petitioner, files a divorce complaint and filing fee with the local clerk of court. The petitioner spouse cannot file the complaint until at least one of the spouses has been a Utah resident for at least three months immediately before the complaint is filed. The complaint must include details of your marriage, such as when you were married and the names of your children, as well as the grounds for the divorce and proposed terms of the divorce decree. Terms may include property division, spousal support, child support and child custody.
Once you file your complaint, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the forms you filed with the court. Typically, a sheriff or constable can serve your spouse if she doesn’t agree to the divorce, but there is an additional fee to have someone serve the papers. If you don’t know where your spouse is, you can ask the court for permission to provide notice to your spouse by mailing the papers to a relative or last known address, or by publication in a newspaper. If your spouse agrees to the terms of the divorce, she can sign an Acceptance and Waiver document, stating she is not contesting the divorce.
The court may require additional paperwork, depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, if you have children with your current spouse, you must provide a child support worksheet detailing your finances along with a certificate of attendance, verifying that you attended required parental education classes. If you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce, the judge will likely sign your divorce decree, without requiring either of you to appear at a hearing.
To initiate the divorce process in New Jersey, one spouse must file a complaint for divorce. Information that needs to be in the complaint includes the date of the marriage, the existence of any minor children and the grounds for divorce. New Jersey has both no fault and fault grounds. No-fault grounds include a period of separation for at least 18 months or the existence of irreconcilable differences. Fault grounds include desertion and extreme cruelty. Once the complaint is filed, notice must be provided to the other party through service of process. Service can be completed in New Jersey by a sheriff or process server, or by mail if the non-filing spouse is willing to acknowledge receipt.
Parents of minor children have an additional requirement as part of the divorce process in New Jersey and must attend a parent education program and pay a fee. This is a one-time seminar outlining the court process and discussing the needs of children before and after the divorce. If parents cannot agree on custody and visitation, they may be required to attend a custody mediation. While the case is progressing, the parties may file temporary motions, also known as pendente lite motions, to request short-term orders from the court regarding issues related to custody and support.
Financial Issues and Custody
If spouses contest the financial aspects of their divorce, including property division and support, but not custody, the parties may attempt to mediate the matter through the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel. This panel is made up of attorneys who will hear the case and make recommendations for a settlement agreement. If the parties still cannot agree, the court may order Complementary Dispute Resolution, which involves mediation with a mediator from a list supplied by the court or approved by the parties. A separate mediation may also be ordered to resolve custody issues.
Avoiding a Trial
New Jersey places a strong emphasis on the parties settling their differences outside of court. Mediation and similar programs are believed to be beneficial as they keep matters confidential, save both spouses time and money, and allow the parties to be actively involved in the resolution of their case. However, If the spouses still cannot reach agreement on economic and custody related matters after mediation, the case will proceed to trial and be decided by a judge.
In Tennessee, a divorce starts with filing a complaint in the county where you separated from your spouse or the county where your spouse resides, if he or she is a resident of the state. If not, the complaint may be filed in the county where you reside. The complaint specifies the grounds for divorce, and includes requests for property division, support and custody. This document, along with a summons, must be personally served on the other spouse. The law requires that the process server be over the age of 18. Following service, the responding spouse has 30 days in which to file a written response, known as an answer. The answer needs to address each request and fact alleged in the complaint, and may include counterclaims.
If a divorcing couple has minor children, both parents must attend a parenting class before the divorce will be granted. If an agreement on custody cannot be reached, the court may order parents to also attend mediation. In certain cases, the judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child.
A judge in Tennessee has discretion to order mediation regarding economic issues. These issues include matters of property division and spousal support, also known as alimony. If attempts to reach agreement fail, the matter will proceed to trial and be decided in court. The process works just like a traditional lawsuit and either party may request advance notice of the evidence that the other party plans to use at trial, a process known as discovery. At trial, each spouse can present personal testimony and question witnesses as well as submit evidence indicating the value of property or available income. A judge will hear both sides and make a decision.
Once a Tennessee court issues a divorce decree, the two parties have 30 days in which to appeal the decision. This process requires filing a Notice of Appeal; the appellate court will review the case to see if the lower court followed the law correctly. In addition to appealing the case, either party may request a modification of custody or the support amount, if there has been a material change in circumstances.