The process for starting a divorce varies by state and residency requirement.You might also need to live apart from your spouse for a certain time before filing. Visit your county courthouse or download a divorce petition from your court’s website. Once you’ve filled it out, you’ll need funds for the filing fee and service of process. If you have questions about how to file your petition, a local divorce attorney can help.
In most states, you begin by completing a divorce “petition” or “complaint” where you provide basic information and indicate how you want the court to decide child custody, child support, property division and alimony. You should make two copies of your petition and file it in the court of the county where you or your spouse lives. If you’re considering divorce, a local family law attorney can explain your options.
Generally, spouses are allowed to keep their separate property ― assets they owned before the marriage and gifts or inheritance they received before, during, or after the marriage. Property acquired during the marriage — such as income, savings, retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, cars, homes, and furnishings — is considered shared property, and divided between the spouses. If you have questions about property division in your state, a local divorce attorney can provide specific guidance.
The divorce process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on your state’s laws and your specific circumstances. Some states have residency, separation or mediation requirements that prolong the process. Divorces with complex estates or challenging custody issues generally take longer than cases with few assets and no children. A local divorce attorney can help you understand the likely timeline for your particular case.
It is difficult to predict how much your divorce will cost, because so much depends on the particular facts, but the overriding factor is whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. The cost of a contested divorce can escalate quickly, so it’s important to work closely with your attorney to reduce expenses where you can.
The total cost of a divorce depends on the complexity of the case and whether the spouses can work together. Attorney rates depend on experience level and the market for legal services in your area. To reduce costs, spouses can try mediation, which is often less expensive. A local family law attorney can explain the specific costs for your particular case.
Married couples can disagree on anything and everything, including whether they should get a divorce. Once, a spouse’s objection made obtaining a divorce difficult or impossible, but today it’s much easier to dissolve your marriage without your spouse’s consent, by filing a “no-fault” divorce. If you’re considering divorce, a local family law attorney can help you understand all of your options.
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