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TROY HUELS

TROY HUELS

Legal Advice 101: What to Do When Filing for Divorce

Nobody walks down the aisle and builds a life together with their spouse only to end up as a growing statistic. But just because you’re hopeful for the future doesn’t mean you can deny the fact that most marriages end in divorce. This is not to say that there’s no love in that relationship; it’s just that some people aren’t meant to be together forever.

After all, love is a choice. You don’t stay with the love of your life just because it’s always easy and warm; you choose to stay in the relationship because you love your partner enough to work through all your differences. But sometimes, love just isn’t enough, and you have to know that this is okay.

You don’t have to stay in a loveless marriage if all you and your spouse do is fight. At some point, you’ll have to wave the white flag and admit that you were better apart than you were together. That won’t make all the time you’ve spent as spouses irrelevant and wasteful; it’s just that you’ve grown as people.

And oftentimes, when you grow, you grow apart. You may realize that you and your spouse have far too many differences to continue finding a middle ground. Instead of dragging your children in the midst of all these will-they-won’t-they situations, you decide to file for divorce. So, here’s what you need to do:

File a Petition

Before proceeding with the divorce, the first thing you have to do is file a petition in court. This petition will state the legal grounds you have for wanting to end your marriage, such as cheating, bigamy, mental illness, or felony, to name a few. You may also need to provide the necessary information required by the state of your residency.

In some cases, the courts allow spouses to file for a no-fault divorce, which is just a more technical way of saying that you can no longer stand to be with one another. By filing for a no-fault divorce, you won’t have to provide any reasons as to why you’re divorcing your spouse other than your irreconcilable differences.

If you’re the one filing for divorce, you will have the responsibility of serving the legal paperwork to your soon-to-be ex-spouse because they deserve to know what’s happening. That is if they are unaware that you want to get divorced. The service of process is relatively easy if your spouse agrees to the terms.

However, if your spouse doesn’t agree to the grounds for a fault divorce and decides to contest your petition, this can lead to a very long, messy, and expensive divorce process. In most cases, these disagreements to a divorce petition would have to be dealt with through settlement negotiations.

Settle Out of Court

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Divorce cases are usually settled in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures, such as mediation, arbitration, and settlement conferences. Among all these types of ADR, mediation is the most popular option for divorce cases because it can help spouses reach an agreement without spending too much time or money in the process.

In a nutshell, mediation refers to the act of getting a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion between you and your spouse to settle your conflicting opinions. Often, the topics discussed in mediation include child support and custody and property and asset division.

The main goal of mediation is to help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse come to a mutual agreement outside of court so that your children won’t have to suffer. This is because children tend to be caught in the crossfire between warring parents in a messy divorce. Coming to an amicable divorce will help you avoid that.

But on the off chance that you really can’t settle your marital differences in ADR, you might have to go to trial. However, a divorce trial is not only time-consuming and stressful, but it can also be very costly because of all the court-associated expenses. So, as much as possible, you must make mediation work to avoid having to go to court.

Finalize the Decree

Once you’ve done all the work—filing, negotiating, and settling—the next and final step would be to wait for the judge to finalize your divorce. This decree will state the specifics of your divorce proceedings, such as who gets custodial responsibility for the children or how much financial support needs to be provided.

The decree may also contain details about how the properties and assets will be divided among the two parties, especially if you went through a divorce trial. Going to trial means you’ve left all the power to make decisions in the hands of the judge because you and your now ex-spouse couldn’t settle your differences out of court.

However, if you managed to negotiate everything in mediation, your lawyers would likely be the ones to draft the judgment that will become the final decree. And when you have a copy of the divorce decree in your hands, you’ll know for sure that your marriage has already ceased to exist.

Getting a divorce is not easy because it signifies an end to a relationship that you thought would last for a lifetime. But while it may not be the fairy tale ending that you dreamed of, divorce can be the best solution to your familial problems. Besides, they’re still your children’s other parent, so you’ll be in each other’s lives no matter what happens.

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