Your Legal Rights at Work

The Path Through Divorce

by Lewis Hamilton

The final divorce decree can come months after you file and what happens in between those days matters. Read below for a summary of what to expect from the time you end your relationship until the final petition is filed.

Separate Living – Once a party packs up and leaves, the marriage is likely over. All attempts to seek therapy and work things out may only lead to a certainty that divorce is the only answer. In many states, separating parties don't have to officially file anything in court yet. However, several issues could arise during the separation that could require a court order, even if it's temporary. Some of those are:

  • Spousal and child support.
  • Child custody and visitation.
  • The use of the family home and vehicles.

Find a Lawyer – No matter what type of divorce you envision, you will need legal representation. Otherwise, you may regret it later when you find out that you should have asked for more property and less debt or for the custody of a child. Contact a divorce lawyer to help you with this process. Not only does that assure you the best representation but it may also give you the upper hand if you file first.

File for Divorce – Once you meet with your lawyer, a divorce petition is drawn up and your spouse is served. Before you file, make sure your lawyer knows about the below issues:

  • Your children and what type of custody you want.
  • Any history or issues of abuse, criminal activity, etc.
  • Any threats to kidnap the children.
  • If you and your spouse have high incomes and assets.

Mediation – If you and your spouse don't agree on matters, you might be ordered to mediation to work things out.

Court Hearings – When issues arise during the divorce, hearings allow the judge to hear both sides of things and make decisions about debt, property, children, and more. If you can agree on things outside of court, it may save you time and the emotional toll of court.

Child Studies – If custody is an issue, you might be ordered to particular roles in a child custody evaluation to determine who parents best and who should get visitation.

The Final Decree – When all is agreed upon or ordered, the final petition makes it legal and serves as the depository of all orders about children, spousal support, debt, marital property, and more. Contact a divorce lawyer for more information.