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What does a divorce timeline look like anyway?

While you may know the basics of a divorce, many people may not know the legal process of going through a divorce. So today, we are going to talk about a simple timeline of events that are likely to occur when a couple decides it is time to walk back that walk down the aisle. Before we list the timeline, though, keep in mind that every divorce is unique, and there are no guarantees that your divorce will follow this exact timeline.

With that in mind, let's begin. 

The first step is for one of the spouses to get a lawyer and write up a complaint that explain why they are filing for divorce and how they intend for that divorce to be resolved. That complaint is filed in court, and then the other spouse is served with that complaint, leading to a summons which allows the other spouse to respond to the complaint. That respond has to come within a certain amount of time, and the other spouse will likely counter with his or her own idea of how to resolve the divorce.

Then, things get more complicated. The spouses will exchange document and information so that they can address serious issues such as child support, alimony and property division. They eventually have to reach an agreement on the critical issues of their divorce, which sometimes is achieved through mediation or a settlement. Once an agreement is reached, a judge has to accept the agreement.

Once the judge accepts, he will make a decree about the divorce, which will summarize what the spouses agree to as a result of this divorce. But, if the judge doesn't accept it, or if the spouses were unable to reach a settlement or agreement, then the case will go to trial.

If the case goes to trial, it will play out much like you imagine: lawyers presenting evidence to show the judge why their client deserves certain benefits or actions in relation to key divorce issues. Ultimately, a judge will make a ruling on the divorce. The spouses could appeal the judge's decision.

Source: FindLaw, "A Divorce Timeline," Accessed Sept. 16, 2015

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