While all of us strive for a happy marriage, sometimes things just don’t work out. This could be for several reasons – maybe you and your partner grew apart, or maybe some other circumstances arose. It might not even be a wanted separation, but instead a necessary one.
If you are looking into getting one, it might feel hard to know where to start. After all, there is a lot of information out there to comb through. Don’t worry. You’re not alone – and I can provide some tips on deciding where to get started with this long and difficult process.
What is Divorce?
Before I can cover that, though, I will explain what this legal undertaking is. There are two types. The first is something known as “divorce from bed and board,” which you can learn more about here: https://www.womenslaw.org/laws/nc/divorce/whats-divorce-bed-and-board. However, for this article, I will focus on the second type.
This is called absolute divorce. It is much more common today than the previous way. It entirely dissolves the marriage and is intended to provide a “clean” break – though of course, this is not always possible. After all, separating is almost always a messy process in some way or another. There are a few subcategories here.
This is the simplest type, and generally the one that will cause the least unrest in you and your ex-partner’s lives. For this, both parties determine contested issues such as custody of children, who keeps properties owned, and sometimes alimony up front. This means there is not a long stretch of arguments in a court.
If you and your spouse have only been married for a short period of time, usually less than five years, a summary separation may be available for you. It takes a lot less paperwork but is only applicable if you do not have children, share very little property, and do not have much debt together. If you fit into these conditions, though, it is a convenient option.
As the name implies, this is the most complicated type of divorce. This is when one or more parties involved in the process dispute something about it. Generally, this makes the proceedings a lot more difficult and stressful, due to the inherent difficulties involved.
Because everything lasts longer in these cases, legal fees begin to pile up. However, if you are looking to start this, you can find a divorce consultation free out there if you look. There are a few different steps to undertake if you are involved in a contested separation.
Naturally, the first thing to do is to file the petition in a court. This sets things in motion. Next, the partner responds to said petition, and then you will need to seek out an attorney. They will help you in the process of gathering information from the spouse and any key witnesses in the case.
After that, there are the motions and hearings that occur before the trial, then the settlements and negotiations that happen between the attorneys of each side. If these negotiations break down, there will be an official court trial. Once the trial is complete, appeals can be filed if one party disagrees with the decision of the judge.
I’ll finish off the definitions with a type that is fairly uncommon. This is because this type of divorce occurs when you file a petition, and the spouse never responds. It may be because they have fled the state or country or are otherwise unable to be found. While it does not happen often, I still think it is good to mention.
How to Get Started
To some extent, this will depend on where you live and your specific circumstances. Most states require that you have lived there for six months before filing for a marriage dissolution. You should keep this in mind as you look into your options.
There are a lot of reasons you might seek out a divorce, and it is really nothing to be ashamed of. Plenty of people get one nowadays, and often there are very good reasons behind it. Thankfully, we no longer need to prove extreme wrong-doing in a relationship to get one, though that did happen for a while – you can see more information on that here.
As I mentioned, you will want to start with filing a petition. Beginning this arduous process is difficult and can be intimidating. If you are going through it, I recommend creating a support system for yourself. You should not have to do this alone.
This is particularly true if there are children involved. Remember – it can have an impact on them as well. Try to explain to them as best as you can and be mindful that your ex-spouse is their parent as well. Best of luck with this!