Divorce and Divorce Law
Find out about the divorce process, how to select the right lawyer, and how to obtain family and property rights protection under divorce law and much more.
The divorce process varies from state to state. Generally, depending upon the specific divorce law governing the domicile of the marriage, there is a petition to the divorce court setting out the proposed terms of the divorce (temporary separation, child custody, child support, alimony etc).
A response from the other spouse opposing the petition where applicable, temporary orders of the court dealing with day-to-day matters (who stays in the marital residence, who has custody of the children pending final resolution of the divorce, who pays which bills etc.) and the fundamental divorce procedures seeking information (discovery, depositions, etc) leading either to a written settlement agreement (to be approved/denied by the divorce court based upon the governing divorce law) or a trial on the matter.
The fundamental mandate of the divorce court is to work out an acceptable economic structure for the divorce and to protect the welfare of the children of the marriage as mandated by the state's divorce law. In the context of that mandate, a divorce court is not particularly interested in the misconduct of the spouses (such as infidelity) unless the misconduct involves abuse of the other spouse or children in which case a restraining order may be necessary.
The selection of a good divorce lawyer can shorten the divorce process and often lead to a better outcome. If there are significant marital assets and child custody is at issue, it is important to retain the best divorce lawyer you can afford. On the other hand, if there are minimal assets and no material issues between the spouses, an initial consultation with a divorce lawyer may result in the use of ready made forms and plentiful checklists to achieve a cost effective divorce.
The average divorce case takes approximately 9 months to resolve. If the divorce is essentially uncontested, leading to a settlement, it can be resolved in as little as 6 weeks. If a trial is required (to the Judge without a jury) the matter can drag on for a number of years. The emotional and economic consequences of a divorce can dictate whether a negotiated settlement or trial is the best route to ending the marriage.
The majority of divorce cases settle without the need for a protracted trail. The impact of legal fees is one reason for this statistic. While a divorce Judge has the authority to reject a one-sided settlement agreement, it is rarely done.