What Does the Divorce Process Entail?

The time it takes to go from married to single varies. However, when it comes to going through the formal divorce process, the steps involved depend on how spouses interact, how much property they owned, and if they have children together. Get a general idea of what the court process looks like to go from married to single.

File for Divorce

Every state requires a court action to end a marriage legally. However, the way you go about it and the exact process may vary depending on where you live. The divorce process usually starts with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage. In this document, the spouse filing has to:

  • Provide the names and addresses of both spouses
  • Give the reason for the request to end the marriage
  • Enter the date of the wedding and separation
  • Inform the court of any children

Once the petition is filed, the other spouse must be legally served with the document. This begins the formal divorce process.

Take Part in Discovery

Assuming the spouses do not outwardly agree on the divorce and its terms, they will have to exchange propositions for how they want the marriage to end. The discovery process is the opportunity for spouses to proffer their best-case scenarios in terms of dividing property, money, debt, and time with children. Most state laws divide property either equally (community property) or equitably.

Dealing with Children’s Issues

When spouses have children together, the divorce process may get bogged down between resolving legal custody and visitation. Legal custody is typically split between the parents and gives each a fair and equal say in their children’s education and health care. The physical custody and visitation schedule may take some time to hash out as one parent usually needs to be the designated primary parent. This is only necessary for school zoning. Otherwise, the time children spend with each parent can vary based on what is best for the kids and their parents.

Final Decree

In the end, a divorce decree is what legally ends a marriage. The document is signed by the judge and filed with the court. It may come after spouses agree to resolve their issues or go through the court process. Either way, it is the only thing that restores a person to single status.

The time it takes for a divorce depends on many factors. The most crucial being the ability of the spouses to compromise.