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Beginning the Divorce Process


After hiring a divorce lawyer you feel comfortable with, he or she will meet with you to plan your strategy and prepare the necessary paperwork to start your divorce - or to respond to your spouse's previously filed divorce petition. Be prepared for a lot of tough questions from your divorce attorney, including:

  • Why you are seeking a divorce?
  • What caused the divorce? Is one spouse at fault?
  • What are your goals for your divorce - both short-term and long-term?

Your divorce lawyer will also need to know information about your situation to figure out how divorce laws in your state may affect you and the next steps you should take. Some information your attorney may ask you about includes:

  • Personal information about you, your spouse and children:
    • Names, addresses and phone numbers
    • Age and place of birth
    • Social security or social insurance numbers
    • Mental and physical health
    • Immigration or green card information
  • Information about the marriage:
    • When and where did you get married?
    • Did you sign a pre-nuptial agreement or create a post-nuptial agreement?
    • Have either of you been married previously?
    • What issues do you foresee with child custody or child support?
  • Financial Concerns:
    • What debts and assets did each spouse bring into the marriage?
    • What is each spouse's income and expenses?
    • How much do you have invested? Are you invested in insurance or a pension plan?
    • What property do you own? Did you acquire it before or after the marriage?
    • Do you have a mortgage?
    • What do you spend on your children?
    • What's your monthly budget include?
  • Legal documents
    • Are there any prior or pending lawsuits?
    • Have or will you and your spouse file for bankruptcy?
    • Is either spouse facing garnishments?

Prepare, File and Serve Divorce Papers

After your initial interview, your lawyer will begin preparing necessary paperwork, including the divorce petition, which sets forth all of the relief you are seeking. Once the divorce petition is prepared, your divorce attorney will file it with the divorce court and it will be served on your spouse.

If you are answering the divorce petition filed by your spouse, your divorce lawyer will file a response that will admit or deny the allegations in your spouse's divorce petition and raise any applicable affirmative defenses.

Your divorce attorney may also recommend filing a counterclaim if you have your own independent grounds for filing for divorce.

A divorce attorney should be able to obtain service of the divorce petition on your spouse within a few weeks. If your spouse avoids being served, or has moved out of state, your divorce attorney may need extra time to serve a divorce petition. In some cases, if your spouse can't be located, your divorce lawyer will publish a notice in your local newspaper over a period of a few months. If your spouse doesn't respond, the divorce court may grant your divorce petition by default.

Find a Local Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, speak with a divorce attorney near you about your options in the divorce process. Connect with a divorce attorney in your area to set up a preliminary consultation by filling out a divorce case review form or calling 877-349-1311 to get legal advice about your divorce.

Case Evaluation