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How The Divorce Process Works

Going through a divorce is difficult. Not only are emotions running high, but there are a bunch of legal hurdles that you need to jump through in order to complete the process. There are a lot of outside concerns – such as helping your kids through the divorce – complicating matters even further.

Many people choose to hire an attorney to help them through the divorce process. A good lawyer can help you navigate the legal steps required for a divorce, and according to Marshall and Taylor, Raleigh based divorce lawyers, they can help to “ensure that you reach a fair and equitable settlement for your divorce.”

Whether or not you decide to go with an attorney, it is good to know that general steps that a divorce will take. It is a time consuming process, and one that can leave many people feeling frustrated and confused. To help you out, below you'll find the general steps that a divorce takes. While the specific steps may vary from state to state, most will have the following steps in common.

Legal Separation

The first step in the divorce process is typically to get a legal separation. While these are not available in some states, most states will have you do this first. A legal separation is essentially an agreement that ensures both parties continue to meet their legal obligations, for instance paying child support, until the divorce can be finalized.

Original Petition For Divorce

The start of the divorce process begins when you file what is called the Original Petition for Divorce with your local court clerk. With this document you are asking the court to grant you a divorce, and lists any relief you believe you are entitled to. Whomever files for the divorce will have to state a reason for it, but this can be as simple as “incompatibility.” Once the petition is filed, it will then be served on the respondent (your spouse).

Temporary Divorce Orders

In some cases, the court may order some immediate actions while the rest of the legal actions are taking place. This could include things like child support, spousal support or custody of any children. All parties must adhere to these court orders, and they last until the final divorce hearing.

Discovery Process

During this state, information is gathered by both parties pertaining to the divorce. There are five steps to the discovery process, but essentially your lawyers will use this time to learn as much as they can about your spouse. It involves a lot of paperwork and time, but is vital to ensure that the divorce runs smoothly. To learn more about the discovery process, you can visit this link.


Next, your attorneys will get sworn statements from the opposing party and witnesses if need be. Anything said during these interviews can be used in court, and can come into play if your divorce ends up in divorce court.

Divorce Court or Mediation

The final step will depend on how amicable the divorce is. For those lucky enough, the divorce will end with mediation, in which both sides can come to an agreement. During mediation, both parties will try to resolve any conflicts that are still lingering.

If you are unable to resolve things in mediation, your case will have to go to divorce court. At this time both parties will be able to argue their case before a judge, and the judge will then examine the evidence and make a ruling.

What Comes Next

After the judge has made their ruling, your divorce is essentially complete. Both parties will then sign the final decree of divorce, which goes over how property will be split and what happens with your children. Unless either side decides to appeal the judge's decision, this is where the divorce ends.

We hope this brief guide was able to shed some light on how the divorce process works. If you're going through a divorce, the more information you have about how it works, the easier it will be for you. However, if you've hired a good attorney, much of this will be taken care of for you. Either way, it's good to know what is in store, so that you can prepare yourself to face it.

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