There are four phases involved with the divorce process. Each phase will require cooperation from all parties involved. If a divorce is amicable, the process is fairly simple and will be handled smoothly. However, if there is any contesting the terms, the process can get more complicated causing the need for involvement from divorce mediators or even divorce lawyers.
Phase 1: Commencement
This involves the serving of an official summons or a petition for dissolution. This can be done either by a third party process server or through the mail. Once the paper work is received, the receiving party has 30 days to answer the terms of the petition.
Phase 2: Gathering of Information
This phase involves gathering all information that is pertinent to the couples financial assets and liabilities. Additionally, information such as the monthly income and expenses of each party, as well as the party who is responsible for any children is determined. In some cases a deposition will be taken from the parties as well as formal and informal gathering of documents and other information. Many divorce mediators and divorce lawyers refer to this stage as the discovery stage.
Phase 3: Settlement Phase
Oftentimes this phase is handled through the use of divorce mediation. This involves a neutral third party helping the divorcing couple to come to agreement about the terms of the divorce. In most cases each of the party’s lawyers will be present. The third party divorce mediator has not authority or decision making ability in this mediation, and is only there to offer advice and suggest new terms for the divorce.
Phase 4: Trial
If divorce mediation is unsuccessful, the divorce case will be seen before a judge during the trial phase. During this phase each of the parties is given the opportunity to provide documents, proof and testimony that represents their side of the argument. Most cases of divorce do not reach this phase but are settled in divorce mediation. This is actually good news for those going through the divorce due to the fact that this case can become extremely expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining. In most cases, divorce mediation is a fraction of the cost of those divorces that go to trial.
Divorce is stressful and overwhelming and can show the worst in people. It is a good idea to seek a divorce mediators advice and guidance to avoid the process from becoming ugly. Keep in mind, each state will have their own guidelines for the actual divorce process and requirements, however the four phases above are the steps you can expect to encounter as you make your way through the divorce process.