The process to your freedom. The steps in a divorce.
Beginning the Divorce Process
If you are reading this blog post right now, more than likely you, or someone you know, is contemplating a divorce. This is a scary time for all involved, especially when you have no idea what to expect. Even more frustrating, you may not even know the next steps after talking to an attorney. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you will have a better understanding and be better prepared should you need to move forward with a divorce. Please note that this is not every step that can or should be taken, but this is an overview of the major steps to take.
First and foremost, please understand that the more you and your ex-spouse can agree and compromise, the easier this process will go for both of you. (and the cheaper it will be). That being said, let’s be real, if you could agree and compromise, you probably would not be talking about divorce and hiring lawyers.
Is the Divorce Contested or Uncontested?
The first thing you need to figure out is whether this is going to be a contested or uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree that the marriage is to end and come to a mutually satisfying agreement regarding the final divorce settlement. The streamlined divorce procedure can often save a couple time and money. As you might guess, a contested divorce is when the spouses cannot arrive at an agreement on one or more key issues in order to conclusively terminate their marriage. The two key issues which most spouses cannot agree on is custody of minor children and finances. Sometimes you can navigate an uncontested divorce without an attorney, but it is strongly advised to never try to litigate a contested divorce on your own.
The Divorce Complaint
So, what is the process? First, a Divorce Complaint must be filed. If you are the spouse filing for the divorce, you or your attorney will file a Complaint for Divorce. In the complaint, you will make your initial case alleging proper residency, grounds for divorce, which spouse should have custody of minor children and any financial allegations regarding money, property, etc. The complaint and a summons will be served on the non-filing spouse (the Defendant). If served with a divorce complaint and summons, in Arkansas, you have thirty (30) days to file an Answer to the complaint. Basically, an Answer is your response to all the allegations made by your ex-spouse in the Complaint.
Custody and Divorce
The next question to ask yourself is regarding minor children and the marital home. If you have minor children, can you agree on custody? If not, you will most likely want to ask the court for a Temporary Hearing. A temporary hearing is a hearing held closer to the beginning of a divorce matter usually to determine disputes which require an immediate resolution. A judge will hear the arguments on both sides and make a temporary ruling. The temporary ruling will stay in effect until the final hearing and divorce decree are entered in the case. Disputes such as the custody arrangement between the parties, child support obligations, who remains in the marital home, and spousal support are usually heard by the court during the temporary hearing. A temporary hearing may or may not be necessary in a divorce. Ultimately it is something you should discuss with your lawyer.
Divorce Discovery Process
In a contested divorce, you will almost always do discovery. This can be done before or after a temporary hearing. Discovery is the process your attorney will use to obtain information from the opposing party. The two most common discovery processes are called interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Interrogatories are written questions posed to the opposing party, for which a response is required, under conditions specified by the jurisdiction ’s rules of court procedure. In other words, interrogatories are questions you get to ask your ex-spouse which must be answered under oath and within a specific time frame. Requests for Production are discovery requests served by one party to an action on another for the presentation for inspection of specified documents or tangible things. Common requests can be bank statements, paystubs, texts and/or email communications between the parties, etc. Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents are nearly always sent to the opposing party together.
The Divorce Final Hearing
Finally, once all the above has taken place, you or your attorney will set the case for a final hearing or trial. A family law trial can look quite a bit like a trial you see on television. Parties can call witness to testify, introduce evidence, cross-examine witness, etc. The big difference between a television trial and a family law trial is that there is no jury. Family law trials are heard and decided by judges. At the end of the trial, the judge will enter a final order on all the disputes between the parties based on family law rules and case law, along with the evidence and testimony heard at the trial. The judge’s ruling will be entered in your divorce decree which, once filed, becomes the final order and the official dissolution of the marriage.
Eason Law Divorce Experience
At Eason Law, we have helped many people navigate divorce and custody matters. Whether it be an initial divorce or modification of custody and child support obligations, we handle it all. If you need an experienced legal team to help you navigate your family law matters, call us today and let us help you through the process.
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