Understanding What the Divorce Process Actually Looks Like in Practice

Around 40% of marriages don’t last “till death do us part.” Instead, for a variety of reasons, they end in divorce.

Divorce can be stressful, but for many couples it’s much less stressful than continuing a failing marriage.

If you’re considering getting divorced, prepare yourself by getting to know the divorce process first. Here are the basic steps you can expect.

Step 1: Deciding to Divorce

Deciding to divorce is the most important step in the divorce process. In a survey of married people, 37% reported considering divorce for at least two years.

It can take a lot of time and reflection before finally deciding to divorce. And there isn’t one right reason to get divorced. But the most common reasons for divorce include:

  • infidelity
  • money problems
  • addiction
  • incompatibility
  • abuse
  • disagreements on parenting and/or housework

Having a solid case and evidence for divorce may work in your favor.

For example, if you’ve had ongoing arguments with your wife, you will both be considered responsible for the differences leading to marriage. But if she is cheating, you may have more rights in the divorce case.

Step 2: Serving the Divorce Petition

After deciding to divorce, you must file a legal petition to divorce.

This petition will include your reason for divorcing. If no one is at fault, you can file a no-fault divorce. Claiming that no one is at fault may help to speed up the divorce process.

After filing the divorce petition, you must then serve the petition to your spouse. If you are unable to do so yourself, you can also hire someone to officially serve the paperwork in your place.

When the petition is served, the receiving spouse must sign an acknowledgment of service.

Step 3: Wait for a Response

The spouse receiving the petition will be given a specified amount of time to respond to the divorce.

If they agree, the divorce will likely be processed quickly and without the need for a trial. But if they challenge anything in the petition, mediation and a trial may follow.

Step 4: Negotiations and Divorce Trial

Depending on the terms of your divorce, you may need to hold negotiations or mediation sessions to discuss child custody, assets, support, and other issues.

If these negotiations are unsuccessful, a divorce trial will likely be required. This is where the judge makes the final call on the terms of your divorce.

For many considering divorce, going to trial is one of their biggest concerns. Going to court can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. But the good news is that only 5% of marriages end in a trial, while the majority of couples settle their divorce out of court.

From start to finish, most can expect to complete their divorce within a year. And if both spouses agree on the divorce from the start, it can take as little as a few weeks to process the divorce.

Preparing for the Divorce Process

Getting divorced is a difficult decision, but it can be a much better alternative to staying in an unhappy marriage.

The divorce process might seem daunting, but for many, it can be relatively quick and easy. Remember, the months spent navigating a divorce case will be much shorter than the years spent in a marriage you don’t want to be in.

For more advice on relationships and marriage, check out our other love articles!