If you find yourself unable to stay in your marriage, whether or not because of marital misconduct or any other reason, then it would help to first understand how the process of divorce works – and the costs involved. You may also want to know how you and your spouse can divide your conjugal assets after divorcing.
To start off, a divorce can be filed in the state where one spouse lives. It doesn't have to be in the state where the marriage took place. In your petition, you need to indicate all important information about your marriage, your children, joint properties, individual properties, and all matters regarding child custody and support, as well as spousal support.
In Long Island and in other states, an alternative to the legal courtroom process would be to seek divorce mediation. This will be helpful especially if you and your spouse are willing to work together to amicably resolve all issues such as child custody and division of assets.
The Process of Divorce
The first phase of the process is called "service of process," in which the petitioner serves the divorce papers to their spouse, who will be legally addressed as the respondent. If both parties agree, then the respondent only needs to sign the papers as an acknowledgement of receipt. If it's the opposite, a professional may be hired to personally serve the divorce papers.
Once the service of process is done, restraining orders will be automatically set to both spouses. They will not be allowed to take their children out of the state, and make any transactions on their properties and insurances.
The respondent may or may not file a response to the petition. The response indicates their consent to the divorce, and filing this can mean that the divorce may no longer need a court hearing, speeding up the process. If a response isn't filed within 30 days, the court may declare it default upon the request of the petitioner. However, the respondent can also use the response to express disagreement on the information indicated at the petition.
If both parties agree on all terms of the divorce, they'd only need deal with a few more items of paperwork. Once the court arrives at a judgment, then the divorce will be finalized. The marriage will not formally dissolve until the end of the state's waiting period. If, however, there are disputes between the parties, court hearings or even a trial may be held.
The costs of divorce are determined based on a number of factors, including the state, use of lawyers, number of children involved, to mention a few. In the case of an uncontested divorce, in which both spouses agree on all terms, the costs can be kept relatively low. All states charge filing fees, but you can avoid this by getting a waiver based on your income.
Hiring a lawyer would cost differently, depending on where you live. You may use a lawyer for certain parts of the divorce only to reduce the costs. Without a lawyer, the costs will include filing fees and serving the papers, and if you're getting the divorce papers online, that will also involve a fee. Getting papers from the state's website or court is usually free.
If you and your spouse can resolve your issues peacefully, seeking the help of a mediator is less expensive and definitely less potentially traumatic than going on trial. Collaborative divorce is also an option, which is also cheaper than a trial.
Division of Assets
States laws play a part in deciding how assets will be divided. Some states will require one spouse to retain ownership of a property owned before marriage, but all states have regulations on fair distribution of marital property. Note, however, that fair doesn't mean equal.
If both parties list all of their assets amicably, arrive at an agreement together or with the help of mediators and/or lawyers, the process can be sped up. However, disputes may require lengthier mediation, and sometimes even a trial.
Ultimately, division of assets will depend on how the spouses are willing to be fair to one another. The ideal process would be both parties agreeing amicably on terms that suit them both.