There are a lot of steps to follow in the divorce process. Below is a list of the 5 first steps that you can anticipate…keep in mind, the whole purpose of the divorce process is to get husband and wife together face to face enough times that they are able to negotiate a full settlement outside of court:
Step #1 - The first step in the divorce process is for you to make up your mind that you are ready to let go of the marriage and move forward with a divorce. Once you know you are ready, call a divorce lawyer. If you do not know a divorce lawyer, just ask a close friend or family member for a referral. Chances are, you know someone who knows of a reputable divorce lawyer. When you call the divorce lawyer, be prepared to provide him with a short summary about the facts of your case and be prepared to schedule an initial interview.
Step #2 - The initial interview will last 30 minutes to 1 hour. At it, you and the divorce lawyer will discuss the facts of your case in detail - you will also discuss the options, short-term strategy for getting the divorce process started, and long-term strategy for resolving each one of the issues either by settlement or by trial. You will be given a copy of an intake sheet (every divorce lawyer has one). The intake sheet will ask you questions about you, your spouse, your children, each item of marital property, and each account that is marital debt. You will take the intake sheet home, fill it out thoroughly and legibly, and then return it to the lawyer’s office.
Step #3 - Once the lawyer has received the completed intake sheet from you, he will begin drafting the initial paperwork. Once the initial paperwork is drafted, the lawyer will then file it at the county court house and ask the judge to schedule the initial court appearance…your divorce will officially be underway at this point.
Step #4 - The initial court appearance is usually just an informal conference. At the conference, you and your spouse will either sit down together and watch a video about helping your children cope with the rigors of divorce or you will meet with the judge and hold an informal conference with the judge about the status of your case. Either way, at the initial court appearance, you and your lawyer will have ample opportunity to meet with your spouse and your spouse’s lawyer to discuss settlement.
Step #5 - If a tentative settlement cannot be reached at the initial court appearance, the matter will be set for hearing in front of the Judge – at the hearing, the judge will resolve the unsettled issues for you.