Just as no two marriages look the same, no two divorces unfold under the exact same circumstances. As a result, it is often difficult to prepare for exactly what any couple’s unique divorce process will entail. With that said, there are some broad “rules of thumb” that you can keep in mind about the divorce process that can help you to mentally and emotionally prepare for what is ahead.
Additionally, understanding the basics of your divorce timeline may help you to make more informed practical and financial choices. When it comes to divorce, knowledge truly does tend to equal power.
The road ahead
It’s important to understand that each state has its own divorce processes and some have streamlined opportunities available for couples who haven’t been married long, have little joint property, and agree on the terms of their marital dissolution. But, generally speaking, the legal side of the divorce process begins when one spouse files a divorce petition with the court.
Notice of this filing is then served to the other spouse. (This is a moment in time that movies like to play up for dramatic effect.) Then, spouses either engage in negotiations and/or mediation in an effort to reach mutually-agreeable terms or they start to prepare for a contentious court battle.
Divorce orders are eventually finalized once a couple’s proposed settlement is accepted by the court or a decision in a contentious case is handed down by a judge. The amount of time that a case takes to finalize tends to depend on its complexity and the willingness or unwillingness of both parties to compromise.
By understanding what to expect from the various stages of the divorce process, you’ll be better prepared for their legal, financial, practical and emotional realities. This is not a minor victory but one that requires a genuine self-directed pat on the back.