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Divorce Frequently Asked Questions

Going through a divorce can be a confusing and emotional time for anyone. Filing for divorce is sometimes a complicated process - so here are some frequently asked questions about divorce, filing for divorce and life after divorce to help you navigate through the divorce process.

What constitutes grounds for divorce?

Grounds for divorce can vary greatly from state to state. All states do recognize "no-fault" divorce – meaning simply that there are irreconcilable differences, and neither party is solely responsible for the divorce.

Each state also recognizes "fault" divorce – meaning that one spouse did something to cause the divorce. Grounds for divorce in fault divorce states vary, but can include adultery; excessive alcohol or drug abuse; and physical or emotional abuse, among other things.

Do I need a lawyer to file for divorce?

It is possible to file for divorce without a divorce attorney; however you are then solely responsible for all the legal paperwork that has to be filed with the court. Having a divorce lawyer may make the process much easier, especially if there is any disagreement in the divorce. A divorce lawyer can advise you on deadlines and legal issues with your case and may help things run more smoothly.

Can my divorce lawyer be from out-of-state?

Yes, a divorce lawyer can be located anywhere as long as that lawyer has a license in good standing to practice law in the state where you are filing for divorce.

What are some questions I may want to ask my divorce lawyer?

When you first speak with your divorce lawyer, some good questions to ask include:

  • What are your fees, and can you give me a total divorce cost estimate?
  • Would you approach my case with a combative or cooperative attitude?
  • How often do cases you handle go to trial?
  • Are there any divorce court alternatives?
  • Based on my case, how long do you expect my divorce to take?

Get more information about hiring a divorce lawyer.

What will happen to my kids in a divorce?

Child custody in divorce is typically determined on a case-by-case basis in accordance with each state’s laws. There are several factors that must be considered when it comes to child custody – however, it generally comes down to what the court deems to be in the best interest of the child. A local divorce lawyer can your resource for child custody information in your particular case.

What is the difference between divorce and separation?

Divorce and legal separation differ in that during a legal separation, the marriage is not over.

During a separation, while still legally married, the two spouses do not live together and choose to lead completely separate lives. In a separation, issues such as separation of assets, division of debts, child custody and child support can also be addressed. Legal separation can help protect each spouse's interests while the final decisions about filing for divorce are made.

Frequently when a couple has declared legal separation and then decides to divorce, the judge may assume that all the terms agreed upon for the separation are acceptable for both spouses - so it can be important to make sure the situation you agree to in separation is a situation you are comfortable living with in the long run.