How to Get a Divorce – Your First Steps

the following three steps will show you how to get a divorce

If you are seeking a divorce, you must check your local requirements. That said, at a very basic level, the following three steps will show you how to get a divorce.

Divorce laws are different in every state, but they all follow the same basic pattern.

If you are seeking a divorce, you must check your local requirements. That said, at a very basic level, the following three steps will show you how to get a divorce.

Get out from under the same roof

For almost every couple, once you decide to split up it is best to actually separate.  

Some couples say they cannot afford to move out.  Others seek to have a “cooperative split,” where they continue to cohabitate.  That sounds nice in theory but it can be a difficult thing to pull off in reality.  A divorce is emotional and serious conflicts can arise if you are around each other too much.  

Your living arrangement has legal implications as well.  

For example, in Virginia, a no-fault divorce requires a couple to show they have lived “separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year.”  

Judges rarely delve into the question of what exactly living “separate” means, but divorces can be delayed because a couple is still under the same roof.   

Clear up your disputes over money and children

Clear up your disputes over money

You are almost never going to get a court to award a divorce decree unless it has already settled issues related to property division and child support.  

This is the biggest hangup for most divorces.  

It can take months for some couples to work out an agreement, and they often run up heavy legal bills in the process.  Other couples, especially those with few assets, are able to simply agree to split the checking account down the middle and each go their separate ways.  

Typically, you will want to file your petition for divorce as quickly as possible.  It usually does not need to be detailed, and many states have a waiting period before the final divorce decree can be approved.  

So you can file the petition and then use the waiting period to come to an agreement on other issues.  

Colorado law, for example, says that a court must simply find that a marriage is “irretrievably broken” and then it can issue a divorce decree once the property is split and children taken care of.  

As a practical matter, courts are unlikely to ever perform a deep-dive inquiry into whether a marriage is broken.  If the spouses say they want divorced, the court will usually grant the divorce.

The Colorado law does have a 90-day waiting period that prevents the court from issuing the decree immediately, though.

So, if you are hoping to get divorced quickly in a state like Colorado you probably want to file your petition as early as possible, and then you can use your 90 days to settle disagreements with your spouse.  

Other states are different.  For example, California will grant quick divorces to couples that meet certain requirements.  

They have to have been married less than five years, have no children, not own a home, and have less than $41,000 in net worth.  Among other requirements, these show the couple will have very little to fight over in divorce.

To get the speedy divorce, though, you must have a signed agreement dividing your property and debt.  

So, when using a process like this, it is probably best to wait to go to court to file your petition until after your agreement is completed. .  

Get it finalized

Once you have all your issues settled and any waiting periods have been completed, you just need to get a judge to grant your divorce decree.  

In some cases, a judge will rubber stamp the decree without you having to do anything.  In other cases, you may need to have a lawyer appear in court to ask the judge to rule. It varies by state and even by the individual court, so you need to figure out your local rules.  

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