After securing an attorney to handle your divorce, the divorce officially begins when either you or your spouse files a dissolution of marriage petition with the court in the county where one or both parties reside marking the legal start date of the divorce. The spouse who files the petition or complaint is the plaintiff or petitioner and the other spouse is the defendant or respondent. The petition will establish the facts of the divorce as you see them and indicate what the petitioner wants from the divorce such as spousal maintenance, child support, or the desired child custody arrangements. If the decision to divorce is mutual, sometimes couples can negotiate a divorce settlement agreement prior to filing. Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, complex or simple, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure you do not encounter issues later.
Serving Divorce Papers
After one spouse files for divorce, their attorney will make arrangements to formally notify the other spouse of the action. If for some reason a spouse cannot be served (unable to locate) and doesn’t respond to notification attempts, you may get a default divorce judgement from the court. However, child support or spousal maintenance may not be ordered until a spouse is served. Every situation is unique – discuss your concerns with an experienced divorce lawyer.
Processing a Response
After a spouse is served, they have a defined period of time to respond aka ‘answer’ the lawsuit. His or her attorney can prepare the answer, which will include whether a spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce petition and detailing what they want from the divorce. It may be that the petitioner has asked for sole custody aka parenting time of the kids or has requested spousal maintenance. If the respondent does not agree, they can make that known in the response which will then be filed with the court. If your divorce is amicable and you and your spouse agree to everything one hundred percent, your spouse can waive service and the divorce will move forward.
During the Divorce
During the divorce process, having a written agreement regarding how you and your spouse plan to handle finances, where you will live, and how parenting time and parenting responsibility will be shared is crucial. In contentious situations, the court may issue temporary orders for spousal and child support or to designate who will reside in the family home during the divorce. Because there are many issues to consider it is important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action. When you have questions about your divorce, contact the Lake county family law attorneys of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for more information at 847-680-4970.