Divorce can be an emotionally draining experience. It can also be legally challenging. Most people don’t deal with family law on a regular basis, so it might be intimidating. If you and your spouse agree on most of the aspects of the divorce, you may even be able to handle most of the divorce on your own. If you have complicated issues, such as child custody or property division, it might be beneficial to speak to an attorney before you proceed.
Where Do You File?
Although the actual process may vary from state to state, the first step in filing for divorce is to confirm that you are eligible to file for divorce where you live. The general rule is that you must have lived in the state and possibly even county for at least six months to one year. Check with the family court in your county where you live to learn the rules.
Most courts will have forms that you and your spouse can download to file for divorce. The court clerk can direct you to the forms, but he or she cannot provide any legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to protect your rights and make sure that you don’t do anything that could jeopardize your position.
One spouse may have to begin the process by filing a petition for divorce with the court. Then, the other spouse will have to be served with the documents and have a chance to respond. You and your spouse may have to try to reach a separation agreement before you move forward. Some states require marriage counseling or mediation before the divorce proceedings.
If your spouse isn’t available or you don’t know where that person is, you have options to move the divorce forward. You will have to show the court that you made every attempt to serve the spouse with the divorce documents. Your divorce attorney can help you with this process based on the laws where you live.
Your divorce petition may require documentation, such as your marriage license. If you have children, you may need to provide birth certificates with your petition. Most courts also have a filing fee. If you cannot pay the filing fee, ask the court clerk or your lawyer if there is a waiver available in your jurisdiction.
Finalize the Divorce Petition
Once both parties have notice of the divorce, you and your spouse will try to work out an agreement about the division of property, child support, and visitation. A lawyer can help negotiate hot issues to find a resolution. Contact a divorce lawyer in Rockville, MD to help you through the process.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and how to file for divorce.