The divorce petition is a legal document filed in court by a spouse who seeks a divorce. Also called the “complaint” in some states, the petition informs the court of the filing spouse’s (called the “petitioner”) desire to end the marriage, and its filing with the court signifies the initiation of the divorce process. Once the divorce petition has been “served” on the petitioner’s spouse, it also notifies them that the divorce process has begun. While specific requirements and formats vary from state to state, the divorce petition typically contains the following information:
• Identification of the spouses by name and address;
• Date and place of marriage;
• Identification of children of the marriage;
• Acknowledgment that the petitioner and/or his or her spouse have lived in the state or county for a certain amount of time prior to filing the petition;
• Grounds for divorce;
• Declaration or request as to how the petitioner would like to settle finances, property division, child custody, visitation, and other issues related to divorce.
What Are Temporary Orders?
The divorce petition may ask the court to put temporary orders in place on certain family and financial issues while the divorce process is ongoing. If approved, these orders usually stay in effect until the divorce becomes final.
These temporary orders may pertain to issues such as:
• Which spouse will have primary (physical) custody of the child(ren).
• Child visitation schedule for the non-custodial spouse.
• Payment of child support.
• Payment of spousal support.
• Which spouse will live in the couple’s house or primary residence.
• Payment of bills and other financial concerns.
Where to File Divorce Papers?
Where you file for divorce is crucial. As with virtually all matters of family law, the divorce process is handled solely at the state government level, so the spouse seeking a divorce files a divorce petition in their state’s “superior” or “circuit” court usually in a county or district branch of that state court. Residency requirements vary by state, but will determine where the petitioner will be filing and serving divorce papers. For instance, Utah requires that at least one of the divorcing spouses has lived in the state for the previous six months but in order to file in a given county, one of the spouses must have lived in that county for the previous three months.
How To Serve Divorce Papers
After filing divorce papers with the court, the petitioner (and their lawyer) makes sure that the petition is “served” (legally delivered) on the other spouse. Each state has strict requirements for serving legal documents, including the different methods of service that are available, so it’s important that service be done right in order for the divorce to validly proceed.
How to Get a Quick Divorce?
The divorce process does not have to take years or even months. If you’re able to come to an agreement with your spouse about custody, visitation, spousal support, and division of property, your divorce can proceed through divorce court rather quickly. The easiest type of divorce, which takes the least amount of time, is called an uncontested divorce. This relatively fast divorce happens because all of the major issues have been agreed upon by you and your spouse.
Uncontested Divorces Take Less Time than Contested Divorces
A contested divorce is one where the parties cannot agree on some or all issues. It may involve a trial, and it may involve lengthy settlement meetings. It may also involve digging into your spouse’s finances, which takes a lot of time and energy.
An uncontested divorce, however, takes a lot less time because you agree with your spouse about:
• Child support
• Spousal support
• Division of property
• Division of debt
• Other issues, such as education and religion
• Life and health insurance
If you want to get a divorce fast, an uncontested divorce will help you do that. An uncontested divorce also will save you money in legal fees, will reduce stress, and will get you through the court system much faster than a contested divorce.
No-Fault Divorces Are Quicker Than Fault-Based Divorces
All states have some form of no-fault divorce, although in some states, you have to be legally separated for a year or more before you can get a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce that doesn’t require legal separation also can speed up your divorce because it eliminates the need to prove grounds for divorce, such as adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, or abandonment. A no-fault divorce prevents the parties from blaming one another for the end of a marriage. In most states, a no-fault divorce is accomplished by stating under oath in court or in papers that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences or are incompatible. If your divorce is a no-fault divorce, you can claim that you want a no-fault divorce in your divorce papers.
What You Will Need for a No-Fault, Uncontested Divorce
A divorce can be both no-fault and uncontested. In some states, if you have a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you may never have to go to court and your divorce can be done on what is called “papers only.”
To file a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you’ll need:
• To satisfy residency requirements
• To purchase an index number
• To have a summons and complaint or petition served on your spouse
• To have your spouse file a response to your complaint or petition
• To fill out forms that put the case on the court calendar
• An affidavit of service for the papers that were served\Income, spousal support, and child support worksheets
• A parenting plan in some states
• A marital settlement agreement, separation agreement, or stipulation of settlement—which are different ways of saying the same thing, depending on your state
• Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law or similar papers
• Judgment of Divorce
• Additional divorce papers, such as statements by each spouse
• Any other papers your state requires
The divorce law in your state governs what needs to be filed and how long you need to be a resident before you can file.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Quick Divorce?
If you’re filing an uncontested divorce, it’s a good idea for an attorney to check your marital settlement agreement to make sure it’s fair to you and that it’s not one-sided. Likewise, your spouse should hire an attorney to review the agreement. One attorney cannot represent both of you, so you will need separate attorneys. If you know that a particular attorney takes a longer time than others to review papers, you’re better off finding another divorce attorney.
Other Ways to Speed Up Your Divorce
To get a “quickie divorce,” consider:
• Filing in another state with a shorter waiting or “cooling off” period than in your home state
• Filing in another state with a shorter time to establish residency than in your home state
• Filing in another state if your state requires a year or more of separation
• Having an attorney prepare the final divorce papers for you
• Going to mediation, where you and your spouse work out your own agreement
• Having a collaborative divorce, where you resolve issues with a collaborative team of attorneys without going to court
Can a Woman Make Her Husband Pay for Her Divorce?
As a general rule, a wife cannot force her husband to pay for their divorce. Each party in the divorce action pays for his or her attorney fees and costs. However, there are circumstances in which a judge may order a husband to pay the wife’s attorney fees and costs. The reasons vary by state, but most states require the wife to file a motion and prove there is a good cause for requesting that her husband pays for the divorce.
Complications and Income Disparities
In some cases, a husband may unnecessarily complicate a divorce action, thereby requiring the wife to incur additional attorney fees. For example, the husband purposefully undervalues assets or hides income to impact property division and spousal support. A judge may award the wife attorney fees because she incurred additional costs that would not have been necessary had the husband not engaged in bad faith and wrongdoing. Income disparities are another factor a judge may take into account when considering a wife’s motion for payment of attorney’s fees and costs. For example, if a wife has little to no income or assets or if she stayed at home to raise a family while her husband worked, she likely does not have the money to hire an attorney. A judge may order her husband to pay her attorney fees so that she is guaranteed sound legal representation during the divorce process.
Access to Property
In every divorce, your marital assets the property that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage are distributed as equally as possible. Because of this, the judge can order that the husband pay the wife’s attorney fees as an advance on the amount of property she will receive in an equitable distribution of assets. When considering a motion to request payment of attorney’s fees, a judge may consider the totality of a wife’s income vs. assets and expenses, the complexity of the case, and the attorney’s fees already incurred. In most cases, if a wife has access to property or income, a judge is not likely to order the husband to pay for her attorney fees. If a wife has the ability to pay an attorney for advice, a judge typically leaves that financial obligation to her and does not place it on the husband unless there are other factors to influence that decision, such as a gross disparity in assets or whether the husband has been hiding assets or otherwise unnecessarily prolonging the process. Also, the court does not award the payment of attorney fees and costs in a divorce action entirely on gender. If a wife earns more income than her husband, has access to greater assets, or unnecessarily complicates the divorce action, a judge could order that the wife pay the husband’s costs for the divorce. A divorce proceeding can be expensive, especially if the parties do not agree on issues such as child support, alimony, custody, and property division. Each divorce action is unique, and divorce laws vary by state. A judge considers a motion for attorney fees and costs based on the facts in the case and the state’s specific divorce laws.
Spousal support is generally issued in connection with cases involving divorce or legal separation. Also known as alimony, spousal support is where one spouse pays the other ex-spouse a certain sum of money, usually on a monthly basis. Courts may require this in instances where one party is much more financially stable than the other, and the other party needs assistance in beginning life after the divorce or separation.
Who Qualifies for Spousal Support?
Spousal support is issued on a case-by-case basis, and each case will be different in terms of the spousal support analysis. In most cases, only persons who have been involved in a marriage of a “longer duration” (usually over 5 years) are qualified for spousal support. Also, the court will take into account several factors when making the support determination, including:
• The earning capacity of each spouse
• The assets and property owned by each person
• Whether one party is significantly involved in debt
• Whether the parties were engaged in a shared business
• Each party’s contribution to the relationship (for instance, as a homemaker, or in terms of joint careers/education)
• Whether the parties have worked out spousal support provisions in a prenuptial agreement
• Various other factors, such as mental and physical health conditions
Can Spousal Support be Modified?
Spousal support orders that are issued by the court are final and enforceable by law. However, they can sometimes be altered due to unique or special circumstances that become present later on. An example of this is where the spouse receiving support payments begins cohabiting with another partner who begins supporting them financially. Another example is where one party is experiencing extreme hardship. Spousal support can also be terminated for various reasons.
How Is Spousal Support Awarded?
Spousal support is usually ordered after a divorce when either the spouse mutually agree on the payments or when the judge looks at all the relevant factors and decides that alimony or spousal support is necessary to support one spouse. Spousal support is generally awarded to a spouse who has been out of work during the marriage or makes a lower income and needs the support of the other husband even after the divorce. The judge could order one spouse to pay the alimony payments in one lump sum if the spouse has the ability to do so or make monthly payments. Alimony payments can also be modified depending on the ability to pay. For example, if one spouse gets a significant raise in income or loses their job and cannot pay, then the spousal support is also modified since it changes the ability to pay.
Requirements for Spousal Support
There are several requirements in order to satisfy for payments to be considered spousal support:
• The payments that are being made must be in cash or checks. Assets and paying off debts is not considered payments for support
• The payments must be provided for in a divorce or a written agreement
• Payments made prior to divorce or agreement for payments are not considered
• Alimony or spousal support cannot be claimed during the same year joint tax returns were filed
• Alimony payments cannot be paid during the time both spouses live in the same residence
• The payments must stop if one spouse marries or dies
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Spousal Support Issues?
Filing for spousal support can require proof in the form of many documents, statements, other items. You may need to hire a qualified family lawyer in your area if you need help with a spousal support order. Your attorney can help review the terms to ensure that your needs are covered. Also, your lawyer can assist you in the event that you need to file for a modification of a spousal support order.
Does It Matter Who Files For Divorce First?
If your marriage has come to an end and you are headed for divorce, you may want to know if it matters who files for divorce first. Many divorce attorneys argue that there really is no advantage to filing for dissolution (divorce) first, however, we believe that it depends on your individual circumstances.
There are some advantages to filing first, and they include:
• You get to plan in advance and take your time selecting a lawyer, rather than having to scramble to find a lawyer to meet with you and file a Response within 30 days of being served.
• You have time to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the financial cost of divorce.
• You have the first choice of which court will hear your case. Depending on where you live, having your case heard in one courthouse over another could be a significant advantage. For example, if your spouse moved to another county, he or she could file in that county once they meet the residency requirement.
• You are in control of the timeframes.
• As the petitioner, you get the first argument at trial.
• By initiating the divorce process, you have the opportunity to start protecting community assets.
• It prevents possible stalling by the other party.
One of the most significant advantages to filing for divorce first is you are given adequate opportunity to consult with various attorneys before choosing one. You are basically putting yourself in an offensive position instead of a defensive position. Ideally, you and your spouse will conduct the process of physically separating and pursing dissolution proceedings in an organized, amicable, planned, and orderly fashion. If you anticipate any conflict about child custody or property division, then the sooner you seek legal counsel, the better prepared you will be to navigate any issues that arise.
Utah Divorce Lawyer
When you need a Divorce Lawyer, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506