Before a divorce can be finalized, it has to go through different stages. For example, the process starts with filing a petition. This signals your intent to divorce or separate from your partner. Thereafter, the papers are served to the other party. Completion of the two stages paves way for other procedures such as determination on how to share custody of the children and splitting of marital assets.
1. Filing a Petition
The spouse filing the petition is known as the petitioner. The request for divorce or legal separation is filed in a state court within the county where either the husband or wife lives. The different forms that have to be filed in this particular stage include:
– Form FL-110. This is an application designed to summon the other spouse to a divorce court.
– Form FL-100. This request seeks to annul the marriage. The form contains important details such as assets owned by the family, the location of different properties and the children’s, husband’s and wife’s names.
2. Service Process
The spouse being served the petition is referred to as the respondent. He/she has to recognize the delivery of divorce papers. If the respondent declines to acknowledge receipt of service, the petitioner may be compelled to enlist the help of an expert process server. This allows for the papers to be personally delivered to the respondent.
Completing the service process, kick starts the waiting period (i.e. the time you have to wait before the divorce can be settled). At this point, the petitioner and respondent are barred from:
– Disposing any type of asset.
– Moving children to a different state.
– Borrowing money against a property, for example, a house, land or car.
3. Child Custody
If there is a child involved, it’s important to understand the difference between sole custody and joint custody.
In sole custody, a parent (i.e. the custodial parent) not only has the legal, but physical custody of a child. In this instance, the parent:
– Stays most of the time with the child.
– Makes lawful decisions in regards to the wellness of the child, for example, where to seek medical treatment and where to go to school.
4. Asset Division
Asset division is one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce proceeding. During the procedure, separating couples need to understand the types of assets, which are:
– Beneficial for short-term financial security.
– Valuable for long-term financial security.
Laws on how to split marital assets may also differ from one state to the other. However, most Separate Property laws take into account:
– Assets which were acquired before the marriage.
– Properties that were inherited prior to and after the marriage.
– Gifts that were received from third parties, for example, cars, jewelries and houses.
– Compensation from lawsuits such as workers compensation judgment.
If an asset acquired before the marriage, for instance, a condo is re-titled to include the husband or wife as the co-proprietor, it automatically loses its separate property status.
An understanding of the different stages of a divorce is important in enabling you to prepare for the procedure.