Taking the first steps toward being divorced can be difficult. When you set in motion the divorce process, you are initiating a huge legal and financial move, not to mention losing a relationship. Once you meet with a lawyer and discuss your case, the petition can be filed at any time once you give the go-ahead. Here is what you should know about what is being filed and what happens next in this process.
The Divorce Petition
This document serves as the official start of the divorce process. It can be known by various names such as a complaint or even a prayer for relief in some locations. Basically, the petition puts the other party on notice that a legal filing for divorce has occurred. In addition to that, it also states what you, the petitioner, wish in regard to some important aspects of the divorce. Much of the petition doesn't generally matter to most couples but some of it matters a great deal. Petitions assume that things like the following issues are agreed upon unless further notice is given by the respondent:
- Child custody
- Child visitation
- Child support
- Property divisions
- Debt assignments
- QDRO intentions
- Health insurance provisions
Some of the above issues will be decided using temporary orders that will eventually be folded into the final decree—many with modifications.
The way the petition has to be presented to the other party can vary from state to state. In many instances, a third-party is hired to serve the divorce paperwork personally. The reason for doing things this way is to assure the petitioning party that the other party received the documents and cannot later claim that they didn't respond because of a lack of knowledge of the upcoming court actions. Typically, how the divorce papers are served depends on the laws of the state, your personal preferences, and your relationship. It is not uncommon for one spouse to simply hand over the papers to the other spouse.
Responding to the Petition
The receiving spouse has only a certain amount of time to respond to the petition with an answer. Every provision named in the petition must be addressed by the respondent (or their lawyer). For example, if the respondent read in the petition that their spouse wants full physical custody of the couple's children and they disagree with that, they must respond and let their intentions to fight that provision be known.
This is only the beginning of the process. For more information, contact a company such as Gomez May LLP.