The Stages Of An American Divorce

American couples get divorced in vast numbers. Divorce is the legal termination of a marital contract and is necessary for married couples that want to separate. Here is a quick guide to the typical stages of an American divorce.

Filing the Petition

Regardless of whether both parties agree to a separation, one party must file a petition for divorce. This is the first step in any legal separation of partners. Good lawyers, including the best family law attorneys in Denver, will help you draw up a reasonable and actionable petition that will make your divorce that little bit smoother. This petition must contain the following parts:

A Statement

This statement must inform the court that at least one partner fits the state requirements for separation. Requirements for a divorce vary from state to state, so make sure to read up on what needs to be proven before you send in a statement.


Along with your statement, you need to establish the grounds for divorce clearly and concisely.

Additional Information

Each state requires different statutory information to be submitted alongside the grounds for divorce and the establishing statement.

Requesting Temporary Orders

Divorces can take an agonizingly long time. Not all couples can wait for a divorce to be legally settled. If, for instance, there has been violence or other abusive behavior in the relationship, or if one partner is stealing money from the other, then temporary orders need to be established in order to make the terms of a divorce legally enforceable before the process is finished. Temporary orders can also be sought if one party is worried that another party may sell off their property from beneath them. Judges usually sign off on temporary orders quickly if there is sufficient evidence to support them.

Service and Response

Copies of the petition for divorce and any temporary orders need to be delivered in person to a spouse. This is usually an easy process. If both parties are in agreement over a separation, this is merely a legal footnote. If, however, one party does not agree with a separation, then serving them with papers can be a very emotionally taxing process. If a spouse refuses to be served, then it is worth hiring a professional server that is used to dealing with difficult parties.

Once a person has been served with papers, they need to respond with either an agreement or a disputation.

Negotiating a Settlement

If there is a dispute over the grounds or features of a divorce, then the settlement process begins. Lawyers representing each party negotiate the terms of the divorce. Concession is key in most cases. Each party must be at least slightly satisfied with the terms if the divorce is going to go smoothly.

Divorce Trial

If negotiations fail, then the divorce may unfortunately end up in court, where evidence is examined in order to determine what terms each party is entitled to. This should be avoided at all costs.

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