Understanding The Divorce Process
If you are on our website reading this information, you may be dealing with some difficult issues. First, we know how tough divorce can be. Some say getting divorce is more difficult than dealing with the loss of a loved one. The emotional and financial consequences are severe and seem to last much longer than anyone anticipates. No one gets what it is like to go through this process, until they are actually in it.
There is no way to make it hurt less, but there are ways to make the process easier and better. In part, a good attorney can not only be a strong advocate in the courtroom but can also offer advice on how to resolve issues and how to deal with some of the unexpected events of divorce. Below is a brief synopsis of the divorce process. If you want greater detail, please review the divorce and custody handbook that is found under forms on this website.
Beginning The Process.
Divorce begins with the filing of a Complaint for Divorce, along with a Summons and a Verified Statement (if children involved) and Record of Divorce. One party chooses to start the process and is called the Plaintiff. That person always remains the Plaintiff, regardless of who files what, at a later time. The Complaint for Divorce is very standard. It states the requirements in the statute and rarely states anything about fault of another party. It will usually request spousal support, even if that is not an issue (so that it can be argued later, if necessary) and, if children involved, will generally request full custody of children. A different agreement can be reached at a later time. The Summons merely states the name and address of the parties and any attorneys. It provides the date the Complaint was filed and a place for service to the Defendant. If children are involved, the Verified Statement needs to be attached to the Complaint for Divorce and provides the Friend of the Court information about the children and the parties’ employment and insurance status. The Record of Divorce contains all the parties’ identifying information (Social Security numbers, employment, etc.). This is filed with the State once the Divorce is finalized. Courts also require a Uniform Child Custody Affidavit stating where the children reside.
The Complaint is served on the other spouse (also referred to as the Defendant or opposing party). It can be served by a process server or someone other than the filing party or sent by certified mail. The Plaintiff can also take the documents to the Defendant and have them sign an Acknowledgement or the Defendant can come to the Attorney’s office and sign for it.
The opposing party is then required to file an Answer within 21 days of receiving the Complaint for Divorce. If the opposing party does not file an answer, then he/she can be defaulted and the divorce proceeds without that person. Generally, the opposing party will hire an attorney within the time, and the process will move forward with two attorneys involved.
See also the information we have provided on:
- Discovery and mediation: two common processes in divorce
- Friend of the Court issues (child custody and visitation)
- Settlement conferences and pretrial conferences in the divorce process
- Divorce settlement, judgment and trial — the final stages of a litigated divorce
Attorney Shon Cook is an experienced family law mediator with detailed knowledge and insights about all aspects of the legal processes of divorce.
The Importance Of Reliable Legal Counsel Through The Stages Of Divorce
Hiring the right attorney for your family law matter can really make the process better and make it easier for you to breathe and move forward. We invite you to discuss your divorce with one of our lawyers. We are here for you. Call 231-246-4807 or email us to schedule a consultation at your convenience. Consultation options include in-person, via phone, Zoom, Teams, or Skype.