If my spouse and I live in different states, where can we get a divorce? Do I have to disclose all of my finances during divorce? How do courts divide property in divorce?
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What is the difference between legal separation and divorce? Can I get my maiden name back?
Should my future spouse and I have a prenuptial agreement? A divorce legally ends your marriage, and the process begins by completing the appropriate paperwork and filing it with the court. Since state laws regulate divorce, it is important to check for local requirements related to filing papers and serving , or notifying, your spouse.
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An individual may only file for divorce in a state where they reside. Nearly all states require that a person reside in the state for a period of time, six months or a year, before filing for divorce in the state. A complaint or petition is the document that is filed with the court, beginning the divorce process. By filing this document, you ask the court to officially end your marriage.
Complaints refer to parties as "plaintiff" and "defendant. Next, your spouse must be notified that you have filed for divorce. Having the complaint or petition handed to your spouse in person is the preferred method of service, or delivery. Other forms of service may be permitted, including mailing the document to your spouse.
After your spouse has been served with the complaint or petition, the court begins the process of terminating the marriage. Often, there is a period of waiting time before the divorce is final.
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These periods vary by state, and some states do not require a wait. Various factors can affect the divorce process. Some couples work through the major issues involved in divorce, such as children and the division of property, without involving lawyers. Others need the help of an attorney to protect their interests. Mediation and collaborative divorce are options for spouses who may be able to come to an agreement and settle their issues outside court.
Divorce laws vary by state, and the amount of time required to dissolve a marriage can differ depending on your location. For example, most states require you to be a resident for a minimum period of time, which can range from 3 to 12 months, before you can file for divorce there.
The proceedings themselves can also vary in length, with uncontested divorces representing perhaps the fastest option, while contentious divorces involving complex marital estates or child custody questions can go on for years.
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After a ruling is made on the divorce itself, there is generally a waiting period from 0 to 6 months in most states before the divorce becomes final. Divorce costs can differ significantly across cases and states, and often depend largely on whether the dissolution is contested or uncontested, whether you hire a lawyer, how many issues must be settled, and how long the divorce process takes. On one end of the spectrum, if a couple with few assets and no children agrees to seek an uncontested divorce without the assistance of an attorney, their costs could be limited to court filings and other relatively minor expenses.
More complex cases involving contested issues of child custody, spousal support, and property division most likely necessitate the assistance of legal counsel, and can take several months to even years to resolve. However, handling the legalities yourself could lead to mistakes that are costly and difficult to correct in the long run. Additionally, an attorney may be able to help you explore alternative dispute resolution strategies that can help you and your spouse resolve any contested issues more efficiently, leading to lower costs for all parties. In most places it is possible for you and your spouse to get a divorce without going to court.
One of the most common avenues, and one that is mandated by law in many states, is divorce mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party meets with the divorcing couple to help them settle any disputed issues, such as child visitation or how to divide certain assets. The mediator can provide some perspective to the parties on how a court might rule on the matters in dispute, and also help them draft a divorce settlement agreement.
In addition, if your divorce is uncontested and you and your spouse do not have children or significant assets, it may be possible to file all the necessary marriage dissolution documents and finalize your divorce without having to appear in court. In theory, you and your spouse may divorce in either state in which one of you resides. The majority of states require that a spouse reside in the state before filing for divorce in that state. Proof of residency may be required, and some states require six months of residency, while others require a year. If you and your spouse live in different states, you may divorce in either state in which one of you has met the residency requirements before filing.
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It may be to your advantage to file before your spouse, to save yourself the fees associated with traveling to the other state for court appearances, for example. It is important to note that a court must have jurisdiction, or authority, over the nonresident spouse in order to make decisions regarding property division, custody, and alimony.
The nonresident spouse must be personally served with divorce papers or consent to jurisdiction. Consent includes appearing in court at the appropriate date or signing an affidavit of service, acknowledging receipt of the legal documents. Another method of consent is following the rules of the court, such as abiding by the court-ordered child support. Though the rules vary by state, both parties are generally required to fully disclose their assets and debts during a divorce that involves disputed issues of property division.
In some places, the spouses are also required to disclose the estimated value of non-monetary items. Courts take failure to disclose finances very seriously, and can impose severe penalties on parties who hide assets. For example, a judge can order changes in divorce settlements and award the entirety of the assets you have hidden to your spouse if you intentionally fail to disclose financial information. However, the consequences may not be as severe if the failure was inadvertent. It is possible to divorce your spouse if you cannot locate them.
Though each state has its own procedures for this kind of dissolution, also referred to as divorce "in absentia," courts will generally require you to have made a diligent and reasonable effort to locate the other party before taking further action. The next step is usually to publish a notice in a newspaper that circulates in the area of your spouse's last known whereabouts, and to keep the notice in the paper for a minimum amount of time in order to provide an opportunity for them to respond.
After you fulfill certain additional requirements that may apply in your state, such as filing affidavits regarding your efforts to notify your spouse of the divorce, the court can enter a divorce ruling without your spouse's signature. Working with a lawyer may be advisable under these circumstances, as the requirements for obtaining divorce by publication are complex in many states.
Division of property during divorce varies depending on which state's law applies. Legal separation effectively ends a relationship, and it is a judicially recognized separation between spouses. But the marriage is intact, and the spouses cannot remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with others. In contrast, a couple seeking a divorce asks the court to dissolve the marriage, most often based on the grounds that the parties have irreconcilable differences that have resulted in the breakdown of the marriage.
This is considered an unlawful intrusion into privacy. However, unless it is relevant to prove or disprove a disputed fact — it can be excluded. If the opposing party introduces evidences that you believe is not relevant, you should speak up! For example:. Even if what she says is true, it has no bearing on the issue before the court. The testimony he is giving is centered around a fact that is not in dispute. Documents such as these can be crucial to your family law case. Perhaps you have a photograph of your ex drinking and partying when they said they were sober or home with the kids.
Maybe you have an email from your spouse clearly expressing the intent to end the relationship and live separately. How do you know they took it? I was standing next to my sister when she took the photo.
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When was the photograph taken? How do you know? Identify the people in the photo State that it is an accurate picture of what it purports to show e. Your husband snowboarding down a mountain when he said he was to ill to work. Hearsay: Written or verbal statements made by someone other than a witness testifying which are offered for the truth. Irrelevant: see above.
Evidence is tricky — even for experienced attorneys.