Divorce Roadmap: Starting Your Divorce
How does a divorce begin and what happens next? The end goal of a divorce is clear; the ending of a marriage and the splitting of property. How to get from the decision to end a marriage to the final order from the Judge has many twists and turns. In this series, I will outline a roadmap for divorce from a bird’s eye view. Your divorce will be unique and will have twists and turns that this series may not cover, which is why it is important that you hire a lawyer. This series is informational and should not be taken as legal advice for a particular case.
Maybe you decided that you want to file for divorce. Maybe your spouse is filing for divorce. Either way, a divorce begins with a Petition filed with the county court in the county where you live. The Petition (and Counter Petition) outlines the basics of what the parties want. An agreement or trial order will be somewhere between the Petition and Counter Petition.
The Automatic Temporary Injunction
With the Petition, an Automatic Temporary Injunction (ATI) will be put in place. The ATI restricts the conduct of both spouses in the divorce for the duration of the divorce case.
The ATI prevents both spouses from:
1. Damaging or destroying property.
2. Withdrawing money from a retirement account.
3. Disrupting or modifying any insurance plan (life, health, home, auto, etc.)
4. Interfering with your spouse’s mail.
5. Signing your spouse’s name.
6. “Disturbing the peace”
7. Hiding the children from your spouse.
Documents Your Attorney Needs
Your divorce will require you to go through years of documents as you detangle the marital property and establish child custody and visitation. While this process will take a while there are a few documents that your attorney will need soon. The next step in your divorce is to provide your attorney with the following:
1. Your most recent three years of tax returns, W2s,1099s, etc.
2. Your last six months of paystubs or other income information.
3. A list of your monthly expenses (if you or your spouse are requesting alimony).
4. Any evidence relating to child custody and visitation concerns. (ask your attorney what is relevant)
Depending on your case, a Temporary Order hearing may be appropriate. It will take place within a few months of the Petition. It will decide the following issues during the duration of the divorce:
1. Child Custody and Visitation
2. Who will take care of and use certain assets (homes, cars, etc.)
4. If a no-contact order is necessary
After this initial flurry of activity, your divorce will become slow (sometimes painfully slow) for a while. I will continue this series and explore more of the steps along the path to divorce.
This article is informational and should not be taken as legal advice for a particular case. Every divorce is different and some issues may not be present while other issues not discussed here may be relevant to your case