The divorce process can be time-consuming and frustrating. Knowing what to expect during each step eases anxiety and makes the process a little easier. Here is what you can expect once you file for divorce:
Summons and Complaint
This is the official request for divorce. One spouse serves the other spouse with a demand to end the marriage. The summons is the official document announcing a divorce is being commenced. The complaint is a two-part document, the first of which outlines the basic facts of the situation and the second of which seeks relief, such as custody, child support, and division of assets. The served party then prepares an answer to the complaint with his or her lawyer. This is typically completed within 30 days. If the served party has no issues with the original complaint, then a counter reply is unnecessary.
This hearing is arranged to create a temporary, legally binding situation prior to the final arrangements of the divorce. Temporary hearings determine custody of children, financial support for children and spouses, protection from domestic violence, details about where spouses will reside during the divorce proceedings, and how assets will be used by each spouse during the proceedings.
Temporary hearings might include an order for both spouses to attend co-parenting classes. These classes are intended to give divorcing spouses the tools needed to help their children deal with the separation of the family.
Discovery is the investigation phase of the divorce proceedings. It gives lawyers for both spouses the opportunity to sort through the case and create a plan. The process can include both parties exchanging information informally, as well as testimony given under sworn oath. Discovery includes several steps, including interrogatories, document requests, releases of information, requests for admissions, and depositions. Experts might also be called on to provide information concerning finances, or the psychological well-being of a spouse or child.
Settlement and Trial
At this point, if both parties agree on the details of the divorce, a settlement is reached. However, if settlement is not possible because of ongoing disputes, the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, each spouse shares his or her story with the court. This also includes testimony from witnesses and the sharing of documents from the discovery phase.
At conclusion, the judge creates a ruling that includes the details of the divorce. Each party has the option to appeal. Once all issues are settled and further appeals are no longer an option, the divorce is final. It is possible to request a modification concerning parts of the ruling in the future if situations change.
If you are considering divorce or you have questions about the steps in a divorce proceeding, contact the Law Office of Anthony J. LoPresti at 516 739-2020 for more information.