The divorce process is started by filing a document called a Complaint with the court. Your attorney will spend some time with you discussing what grounds for divorce will be listed on the Complaint.
You will need to provide the attorney with the original or certified copy of your marriage certificate. If it is a language other than English, then the Attorney will need to have it translated by a certified interpreter. This must be the civil marriage certificate, not a religious certificate. You can obtain the record at the town or city hall in which you were married. The fee for the certified copy is minimal.
The most commonly used grounds for divorce are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (either contested or uncontested) and cruel and abusive treatment.
However there are additional grounds for divorce that may be applicable to your situation. You should confer with an attorney as to what grounds would be appropriate for your situation.
The average time to obtain a divorce is one (1) year. Depending on your circumstances this may be shorter or longer.
What To Expect
Once the divorce is filed, your spouse will be served with the complaint. The parties will then have to exchange discovery documents, allowing for full disclosure of all assets, income and liabilities. This process may take up to six (6) months.
Once there has been a complete exchange of all assets and debts, the parties, through their counsel, may negotiate a settlement. A settlement must include all essential terms, including but not limited to custody, child and spousal support, parenting schedules, health insurance, and division of marital assets and debts.
Even though the parties may agree on all issues the Court still has the final authority to grant a divorce. The Court will only grant the divorce if the Judge believes that the separation agreement is fair and reasonable, was entered into freely and voluntarily, and provides for adequate division of marital assets.
If Minor Children Are Involved
Each parent must take a parenting class approved by the Court. The class is designed to assist the parties in understanding how their action (or inactions) affect the children and how best to cope with your spouse and explain situations to your children in an appropriate manner.
This information is intended only to be an introductory guideline. Because each case is unique and presents different issues, if you have questions please feel free to contact our office.