Divorce can be difficult, particularly if children, property, and other assets are involved. There are several steps to the process – regardless of the specific situation – that must be followed to clear up all issues when a marriage ends.
A no-fault divorce occurs when a couple seeks to end to their marriage without stating a reason for the dissolution of the union. Most states allow this type of divorce. Often, a reason must be stated for the divorce. Most of the time, it is fine to declare the cause for the termination of the marriage as either “irreconcilable differences” or “incompatibility.”
Note: Some states require that a couple live apart for a specified period of time to obtain a no-fault declaration of divorce.
A fault-based divorce is one granted when the grounds stated by at least one spouse are accepted by the court. Not every state allows a fault-based divorce. Common faults include the following:
- Cruelty – This often refers to excessive emotional or physical pain inflicted by one spouse towards the other.
- Adultery – This refers to allegations that a spouse has been unfaithful during the course of the marriage.
- Desertion – This refers to a spouse who simple leaves for a specified period of time. Each state has specific requirements as grounds for desertion.
- Confinement in prison – This is when one spouse is sentenced to incarceration for a specific period of time.
- Physical inability to engage in marital relations – This refers to either the inability to engage in sexual intercourse or the refusal to do so.
Options Prior to Divorce
Before ending a marriage, there are other avenues that can be taken before the dissolution of a marriage becomes permanent:
- Trial separation – This is a period of time when the couple agrees to separate before deciding to officially end a marriage. This option is a private agreement between each spouse.
- Living apart – Some states consider any debt or assets obtained during this period to be non-marital property. However, some states consider debts that are accumulated during separation to be joint debts until an actual divorce takes place.
- Legal separation – This type of separation occurs when a couple chooses to separate and they go through a court to decide on matters such as division of assets, property, and debt, as well as issues concerning custody, visitation, and child support.
How to File for Divorce
- File a petition for divorce with the local divorce court.
- Temporary orders may be issued by the court to address immediate issues until the marriage is legally dissolved.
- Preparation for the termination of a marriage often includes the following legal steps:
- Admissions of Fact
- Request for Production
- Mediation is the process where both parties attempt to come to an agreement on all issues related to the end of the marriage outside of court. Many states require mediation before a divorce can proceed in court. If mediation is not successful, the court will manage the divorce proceeding.
- Settlement: If the spouses cannot come to a mutual agreement, a judge may determine marriage fair property division settlement when ending the marriage. If either party is not satisfied with the decision, an appeal is the next step.
A legal professional can provide assistance with divorce proceedings and related options such as legal separation. This may be especially helpful if property, assets, and debt incurred during the marriage have to be divided. Divorce is rarely an easy decision, but proper legal advice can make the process smoother.