The necessary steps to obtain a divorce depends on the situations of the parties getting the divorce. Some divorces occur when the parties have been married for a relatively short period of time, have no children and little property or debts. Sometimes these types of divorces should be less time consuming and involved than a divorce where the parties have been married for a long time, where there are minor children or where there is significant property or debt to divide.
“The more the parties can agree on items between themselves, the smoother and quicker their divorce progresses,” says Thomas Bumgardner, an attorney with The Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner. “If the couple is bogged down in fighting and disagreements over every detail, the process will be slower.”
File a Petition
The first step in the divorce process is filing a petition. Even where both spouses agree they are wanting to get a divorce, one of them will have to be the one to file a petition with the court asking for the divorce. The petition will state the grounds for the divorce.
If one spouse depends on the other for financial support or will have custody of the children, that spouse will need to ask the court for temporary orders for support and custody. An example would be if a stay at home mom files for divorce, she will need financial support from her husband to continue paying household bills. She will also need a temporary custody order and a temporary child support order for the children.
Service of Process
The party who files for divorce also needs to file proof of service of process. This document shows that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. Service of process can be either very dignified or undignified, or range anywhere in between.
The person who receives service of process will then need to file a response to the petition. If a divorce was sought on faulty grounds and the responding party wants to dispute those grounds, he or she will need to address it in the response.
If the parties don’t agree on all issues, they will need to try to negotiate their differences. The court may schedule settlement conferences that attempt to move the parties toward a final resolution of the issues. If the parties disagree on child custody and visitation, the court may also order mediation, evaluation of the children and parents by a social worker or other court employee and that a lawyer or guardian ad litem be appointed to represent the children.
Any issues the parties cannot resolve between themselves will have to be decided at a trial. However, going to trail will take longer, cost more money, and have less predictable results. So it is probably in your best interest to avoid going to trial if possible.
Order of Dissolution
The order of dissolution ends the marriage and spells out how the property and debts are to be divided, the custody of children, the support for the children and any other issues. When parties negotiate their own resolution to all of the issues, they will draft the order of dissolution and submit it to the court. If the order of dissolution complies with legal requirements and both parties entered into it knowingly and willingly, then the judge will approve it. Otherwise the court will issue an Order of Dissolution at the end of the trial.
Thomas Bumgardner can help you understand the laws of divorce and separation in North Carolina as well as helping you through family situations like this. Please call us for a free consultation at (704) 870-4779. We’re experienced and we’re here to listen to your situation and to offer our professional guidance.