How long will my divorce take from start to finish?
Divorce is a very difficult time for both spouses. Couples can have different types of marital issues. A divorce can be a long legal process, which has its share of surprises and complications. A divorce can also take a few months to finish. Each state has its own laws and statutes about divorce. The following information will guide you through the divorce process:
A no-fault divorce is a legal proceeding. It grants a divorce based on the legal term “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences mean that the couple does not want to continue the marriage. It also means that neither couple is at fault for the breakup. Couples can get a no-fault divorce in all 50 states. Some states require couples to live apart for a certain length of time before the divorce.
Fault divorces are not as popular as no-fault divorces. This type of divorce can be expensive and time-consuming. A fault divorce is when one spouse blames the other spouse for the breakup of the marriage. Here are some grounds required for a fault divorce:
• Abandonment (required length of time is necessary)
• Physical and emotional pain
• Unable to have sexual contact
• Prison time
Fault Divorce Defenses
There are defenses to fault divorces. But, most courts do not force couples to stay in an unwanted marriage. Here are a few defenses to a fault divorce:
• Participation in misconduct by spouses (connivance)
• Involvement by both spouses in misconduct (recrimination)
• Forgave spouse for wrongdoing (condonation)
• Actions force spouse to do something (provocation)
The Plaintiff’s Complaint
A lawyer files a complaint or petition for the plaintiff (the spouse wanting the divorce) in court. The complaint explains why the spouse wants the divorce. It also provides information about the custody of children. The document explains the financial settlement and other issues.
The Summons and Process of Service
The plaintiff and defendant (the other spouse) are parties in the divorce proceedings. The court serves the complaint and summons on the defendant. A summons requires the defendant to answer the complaint within a certain time. If there is no answer, the court believes that the defendant agrees to the terms of the complaint.
The Defendant’s Answer
The answer tells the court whether the defendant is in agreement with the plaintiff. The defendant either admits or denies each section of the complaint. It also lets the court know how the defendant would like to handle the divorce.
The court schedules a temporary hearing to decide issues of the divorce. A lawyer for the plaintiff or defendant can request the hearing. Here are some of the issues that the temporary hearing resolves:
• Custody of children
• Child support
• Alimony or maintenance
• Residences for the plaintiff and defendant
• Assets and debt
• Domestic violence protection
Discovery identifies the assets of the plaintiff and defendant. Both spouses must name all their property, debts, and income. Each spouse has to exchange this information with the other spouse. This is a list of the documents that request this information:
• Written questions called interrogatories
• Requests for relevant documents
• Release of information for third party documents
• Requests for admission of facts
• Deposition to answer questions under oath
The settlement resolves all matters about the divorce. It is a written contract between the spouses. The judge schedules a hearing for the plaintiff and defendant. The court wants to make sure both parties have fair treatment. If everything seems to be in order, the judge approves the settlement agreement.
If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, the court resolves all divorce issues. The attorneys for both parties present evidence about the divorce matters. Here is some evidence that arises during a divorce trial:
• Both the plaintiff and defendant testifies
• Witnesses testify (family, friends, and neighbors)
• Expert witness testimony
• Documents about marital assets
The court issues a divorce decree after the settling of all issues. The divorce decree is a document that lets both parties know that they are no longer married. This document settles all of the following divorce issues:
• Child support
• Spousal support or maintenance
• Child visitation
• Divides martial property, assets, and debts
Divorce is a frustrating time for a couple. There are many marital issues to resolve. If a couple is unable to resolve these issues, both spouses should seek the services of an attorney. Lawyers will be able to help them navigate the procedures and rules of family law.
Can I ask his lawyer what’s going on if mine won’t respond?
This is a rare but frustrating situation during divorce proceedings. You have pressing questions that you need to know the answer to but you simply can’t get a clear answer from your attorney’s office. You feel like you’re either being ignored outright or like your lawyer is too busy to answer your questions. What this situation does is increase the emotional stress of a divorce, which as we all know is already painful enough without throwing in an unresponsive attorney.
Many people in this situation would begin to think of other alternatives to getting their questions answered. In some cases, people will even think of contacting their husband’s lawyer to get the questions they so desperately need the answers to. Before you do this, though, it’s important to answer this common question: Can I ask his lawyer what’s going on if mine won’t respond?
Answering This Important Question
Under the law, you have a clear answer to THIS question at least. No, you can’t contact your husband’s attorney and ask him what’s going on. His attorney is not allowed to answer your questions, given that you are not his client. Even if he were to be allowed to answer the questions, it would be better to get the advice of your own attorney.
So here is the vital information in the answer no. You NEED to get your attorney to communicate with you more often, when necessary, and immediately. It’s not right to leave a client already going through the pain of a divorce waiting for an answer. What you’ll need to do is make sure that you communicate effectively with your attorney so that they realize they are not being responsive to your questions and needs.
Write a letter to your attorney
Communicating in writing is great because you always have a record of the communication. If the other party tries to say that you didn’t reach out to them, you have that written document showing that you did, indeed, reach out and try to get answers. When your lawyer fails to answer one of your important questions, it’s time to put those concerns in writing.
Certified letters are great for this type of situation. If you can see clearly that your attorney received the letter and still failed to reach out to you, then you know it might be time to look elsewhere for legal services. No good divorce attorney is going to ignore a letter from a client like this. If you took the time to write the letter, date it, certify it, and send it out, then they should care enough about your case to call with an apology and an answer to your questions.
Yes, attorneys are busy people. Yes, there will be times when it might take a day or two to get back with an answer. But you should never feel ignored by your divorce lawyer. The fact that you’re even asking whether or not you can go to your husband’s attorney to get answers says that you might want to rethink your legal team. You shouldn’t be asking this question in the first place.
No, you can’t ask his lawyer what’s going on
If you can’t get an answer to your legal questions about your divorce, always keep in mind that you will not get answers from his attorney. His attorney is not allowed to work with you in any way (it’s a conflict of interest and questionable at best).
The second part to this question is, who do you go to when your own attorney isn’t answering your questions and letting you know what’s going on. The answer here is twofold:
1. Write your attorney a certified letter explaining your questions and asking for a response.
2. If you still don’t get a response, it’s time to begin considering changing your divorce attorney.
As experienced divorce lawyers ourselves, we strive to never leave our clients worrying about pressing questions to their case. We communicate often, clearly, and specifically when there is a question our clients need to know the answer to. It’s one of our goals to make our clients active in their own cases to the extent that they never have to know what’s going on. Our clients always know what’s going on in their cases, every step of the way, and any good divorce attorney is going to give you the answers before you even have to ask the questions.