There are many ways for people to obtain help if they have a marital problems. Your attorney may be one source of suggestions to keep your marriage together. Meanwhile knowing your rights and legal options can be of great help and comfort.
When you first meet with an attorney you will probably discuss several topics, including: The prospects and methods to keep your marriage intact; helping you with any immediate problems, such as support and payment of bills; discussion of divorce; financial support for you, your spouse and your children; and division of property and debts.
A divorce action is started with the filing of a legal document with the court called a complaint. However, the parties may choose to first try to resolve all of the issues which are involved in the divorce before any papers are filed with the court.
As with most matters, the first step in proceeding is to obtain all the relevant facts and then to apply the law to those facts to determine the rights of the parties. Then the parties can attempt to settle their differences with the benefit of a full knowledge of the facts and of their rights.
After the complaint is filed it is served upon the other party, who then files a response. After that the parties begin the discovery period in which they obtain all of the relevant facts, which they then use in trying to settle their differences.
Sometimes a party finds it necessary to apply to the court for temporary relief prior to the granting of the divorce. This may be necessary since it may take a year or more before the divorce is granted. In the meantime, the parties need to have acceptable temporary agreements on matters such as custody, visitation and support. Examples of temporary relief include temporary alimony or child support, payment of legal fees, restraints on the transfer of assets, living arrangements and custody and visitation matters.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
There is a great deal of variation in the time it takes to get a divorce. Divorces may take from as little as three months to as long as two years or more. The major factors are the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to agree. A trial is required if the parties cannot settle their differences. In that case, the parties and subject to the backlog of the particular court. However, a settled case can be heard by the court without delay.
What you should do if served with a divorce complaint?
You need to contact an attorney right away so that you can fully protect your rights. Hopefully, all issues can be resolved to your satisfaction. However, if you do nothing a default judgment may be entered against you. In that case the decision of the court is bound to be contrary to your wishes. At the very least by failing to cooperate you will make the divorce process more difficult and expensive for all concerned.
What are the Grounds for Divorce?
The courts recognize that they cannot and should not force people to remain married if they seek a divorce. However, no one is entitled to a divorce unless they can prove that they have legal grounds that entitle them to a divorce.
The grounds for divorce often include:
Desertion (which includes physical desertion or the refusal to have sexual relations- known as sexual desertion)
Extreme cruelty, which includes acts by the spouse which make it unreasonable for you to be required to continue to remain married to each other
Separation, by living in different locations from your spouse for the legal time limit
Addiction to drugs or alcohol
Deviant sexual conduct
You should consult with your attorney regarding the grounds for divorce which may be available to you or your spouse and the various limitations and conditions regarding their use.
What is "no fault" divorce?
In a "no fault" divorce the parties would be able to obtain a divorce without having to prove that the other party is at fault. Separation is such a ground since fault is not at issue. However, even with "no fault" all of the other issues as to financial matters, custody, visitation support, etc. must still be determined. Thus a "no fault" divorce is not necessarily a simple one.
Custody of children
The decisions relating to custody of children and the related issues of visitation and support are some of the most important issues in divorces today. Plans have to be made for the future conduct of family living. The extent and variety of provisions in the area are considerable. You should explore your options and your rights with your attorney.
Financial support of the spouse - alimony
The law regarding spousal support is constantly changing. The reasons for providing such support are many as are the varieties of support. For example, support may be provided for a limited period of time to allow a spouse to obtain needed job skills or training or to provide compensation for helping a spouse through professional school.
The amount of child support along with the terms of payment and the method for revising the amount of support are all to be determined as part of a divorce. Also to be decided are the conditions of emancipation which will result in the termination of such support.
Division of property
The division of marital assets is of great importance. It is necessary to determine which assets are subject to distribution, how much each asset is worth and what the final distribution should be. This should take into account debts of the parties which should likewise be distributed along with the complex tax considerations involved in the transfers and subsequent tax liabilities of the parties.
Post divorce concerns
After a divorce the circumstances of the parties may change in ways which may require other changes, such as increased support, college education for the children or the need for a spouse to move out of the area. As much as possible such changes should be anticipated and plans should be made in advance as to how such changes will be allowed to affect the parties. For example the parties may agree to exchange financial information and set forth terms and conditions for the revision of the amount of child support.
If either spouse is a victim of domestic violence the provisions of the law relating to such matters will be of great importance. Your attorneys advice on these matters will be of great importance to your health and well being.
Issues relating to child abuse may play a part in your divorce. If this is the case your attorney can assist you to help protect your family from abuse or to fight an unjust charge of abuse.