Understanding and working through the divorce process can feel like a monumental task. The sheer exhaustion associated with the separation from your spouse is already a source of stress and despair, even before any attempt is made to grasp the various legal aspects involved.
A knowledge of the common issues and steps you’ll journey through with your family law attorney in the trial process is incredibly important as you begin your separation, however. With this firmly in mind, let’s take a look together at the likely proceedings, as well as the impact of child support.
Common Divorce Issues
Often, spouses cannot agree on terms, and they enter into a contested divorce. These situations may require a family law attorney with a certain specialty and acumen depending upon the exact disputes involved. Common types of contested disputes include:
– Division of debts
– Division of property
– Domestic violence disputes
– Child support and visitation
– Spousal support or alimony
Steps in the Process
It’s critical to understand that there are a number of legal requirements involved with all contested court cases, and these requirements must be met before two individuals can move forward in the process.
While the following is by no means an exhaustive, complete list of steps, here’s a brief overview of the journey that must be taken by spouses:
– The petition for divorce, which acts as the official paperwork for the proceedings and states the reason for the case and the dissolution of the marriage, must be prepped, filed, and served.
– A response to the petition is issued.
– A family law attorney must be acquired.
– The lawyer will walk the spouses through the discovery process, which allows for the gathering of information on the case both from the two individuals intimately involved as well as any witnesses. This includes all pre-trial hearings, depositions, and subpoenas.
– Lawyers on each side negotiate for the possibility of a settlement.
– Trial prep begins in the event that a settlement can still not be reached between both sides.
– A trial is held and completed.
– A final order is put forth by the court that sums up the judge’s decision, and the lawful separation of the two parties is completed.
– The appeals process begins and is completed if any details of the original decision are disputed by either party.
You’ll want to check with a family law attorney and your local courthouse for further specifics on the steps and legal requirements involved, as each state differs in its requirements.
The issue of child support/alimony in any divorce proceeding naturally complicates matters to a considerable extent.
Alimony payments made by a spouse generally continue until the minor child involved reaches maturity, which the court considers to be the age of 18. However, there are instances when the court will decide that additional alimony payments beyond this point are necessary. These include but are not necessarily limited to:
– When an 18-year-old is not yet “self-supporting” and is still attending high school. (Alimony usually ends at 19 even if the child remains in high school, however.)
– When the child in question is special needs or otherwise incapacitated. In such cases, alimony generally continues as long as the child is deemed to be lacking in sufficient means.
Parents can voluntarily come to an agreement for one side to continue to make child support payments past the normal timeframe.