What is the divorce process like?
Divorce is never an easy process. However, there is an “easier” way and a “harder” way to obtain a divorce. The easier way involves the parties negotiating a separation agreement, which is a contract dealing with all matters of property division, alimony, child custody and child support. The parties work out any differences they may have by negotiating between themselves or by having their lawyers negotiate for them. The lawyers then draft an agreement for the parties to review and sign. After the separation agreement is signed, both parties file a “Joint Petition” for divorce, asking the Court to approve their agreement and grant them a divorce. This way, the Court is involved only at the end of the process. The divorce hearing is generally short, and the judge simply makes sure that the agreement is “fair and reasonable” and that both parties understand and mean to be bound by the agreement.
The harder way involves one of the parties filing a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”. The other party is served with the petitiont, and either party may ask the Court to decide on temporary spousal support, child custody, child support or other matters through the filing of a “motion”. Eventually, a trial date is set. A trial is when both parties and their lawyers present evidence to a judge by way of documents and testimony from the parties and other witnesses. The judge will then make final decisions on property division, alimony, child support and child custody. Even if a divorce starts out with a Petition for Divorce, the parties are still able to turn the process into the “separation agreement” process if they are able to reach agreement on the issues prior to a trial.