After the divorce petition and answer are filed, the divorce process begins. The divorce laws in your state may require a divorce waiting period to elapse before the divorce process can continue. This period allows you and your spouse to possibly reconcile your marriage.
During divorce, the court will likely enter a series of temporary orders on different issues to preserve the marital property, make sure your household bills are paid, provide assistance to a spouse without an income source and cover the children's needs. Temporary orders are applicable only while your divorce is pending and will dissolve once the divorce petition is finalized.
If your spouse is causing problems, you can apply for a temporary restraining order to prohibit your spouse from contacting you or ordering your spouse to pay certain bills. In some cases, you will be entitled to an award of divorce attorneys' fees if your spouse's misconduct requires your divorce lawyer to seek a temporary order.
Despite your right to seek temporary orders, it's probably in everyone's best interest to agree upon disputed issues while your divorce is pending, rather than incur additional legal fees and cause bad feelings with temporary orders. In some states, temporary orders automatically go into effect when a divorce petition is filed or the other spouse is served.
The heart of many divorces is discovery. The discovery process permits the parties to gather detailed information from each other about assets, income, fitness for child custody, extramarital affairs and any other issue relevant to the divorce. This phase of the divorce process is typically not contested, and the parties will exchange relevant information as required by the rules of procedure. If your spouse resists turning over relevant information, your divorce attorney can seek an order from the court compelling your spouse to do so and ordering that he or she pay your divorce lawyer's fees.
In most divorces, the court will push the parties to work toward alternatives to divorce court. Excessive litigation may antagonize the parties, harm the children and drive up costs for everyone. The final decision of whether or not to settle is always up to you — not your divorce attorney. The policy in favor of divorce settlement is strongly held by so many states that provisions are often made for a kind of divorce by agreement. For couples who can get along well enough to hammer out an agreement, this approach can dramatically speed up the divorce process, minimize the stress on the children and save costs for everyone.
If you and your spouse cannot reach a divorce settlement, the court will schedule a trial for your divorce. You and your spouse will each be able to tell your own stories, call witnesses to support your side and cross examine the other spouse's witnesses.
Divorce cases typically aren't tried before juries; the judge usually has the final decision. After the trial, a final divorce decree is entered resolving all of the issues in the divorce. Your trial is not always the end of your divorce. The losing party can appeal the divorce decree.
If you are considering divorce but want to learn more about your divorce options, speak with a local divorce attorney to learn more about the divorce process. Connect with a local divorce lawyer by calling 877-349-1311 or filling out a divorce case review form to get advice about handling the divorce process.