Steps to Consider in a Cape Girardeau Divorce

A child holding a ripped piece of paper showing her parents getting a divorce
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It’s likely that you’ve heard a great deal about the ease of (or lack thereof) getting a divorce in the United States. Well, in Cape Girardeau there are some aspects that can make it a smoother process, but it depends on what you and your spouse can agree on and how complicated your assets as well as other things in your lives. The majority of divorce cases in Missouri will feature the following steps as part of their process.

1.) File the Petition

It’s possible that only one spouse wants the divorce. Regardless, the first step must be for one of the spouses to file a legal petition that requests for the court to end their marriage. This spouse must include a statement informing the court that at least one of the spouses meets residency requirements in the state in which they’re filing, a legal reason (grounds) to be asking for a divorce, and other statutory details that are required by the state.

Residency requirements are different based on where you live. For this reason, be sure that you do your research first, so you know whether you meet these criteria. Also, keep in mind that grounds for divorce are different in each state. There is an option in every state for divorcing couples to file a no-fault divorce. This streamlined process lets you file the petition without having to list a reason or place blame on either party. A family lawyer can assist you in figuring out if you should file a petition as “no-fault” or “fault”.

2.) Request Temporary Orders

Courts are aware and understand that not all couples do well with the waiting period for getting a divorce. This applies especially if you’re a stay-at-home parent, and you are dependent on your spouse for financial support, among several other situations which make it unrealistic to go through a 6-month divorce process. There is an option to ask that the court grant temporary orders for things such as spousal support, child support, and custody. Some other types of orders include a property restraining order and request for status quo payments that would require that the breadwinner pay marital debts still during the whole process.

There typically will be a hearing and each spouse will need to give information so that the court can make a ruling. Judges tend to grant temporary orders quickly and this will stay in effect until the divorce is finalized.

3.) Serve the Petition and Wait for the Response

The filing spouse has to make sure that a copy of the paperwork gets to their spouse. You also have to file proof that the other spouse has been served with the document(s). Proof of service lets the court know you meet the statutory requirements that you’ve given a copy of this petition to the other party. If you fail to serve them properly or don’t file the proof of service, the judge won’t move ahead with your court case.

There can be difficulty with the service of process if your spouse wants to remain married or to make the process complicated in some way. It’s in your best interest, if you suspect that this may happen, to hire a professional who has the experience and is licensed. If your spouse already has an attorney, you can have paperwork delivered to their office.

The defendant/respondent has to file a reply or answer to this petition within a certain amount of time. If they don’t respond in this time period, there could be a default judgment against the spouse who filed. They can dispute the allegations, grounds for divorce, or assert disagreements when it comes to custody, support, property, and other issues related to the divorce.

4.) Negotiate a Settlement

If the parties don’t agree on important matters such as division of property, support, and custody, they’ll need to work to reach an agreement. The court may schedule a settlement conference for the parties and their attorneys to talk about the status of the case. Mediation may be necessary or a recommendation here, in order to help with resolving issues. Some states mandate participation in mediation. It is something that helps the parties save money and time, so regardless it’s a good idea.

5.) Go to Trial

Negotiations can fail no matter how much work each spouse puts into the settlement. At this point, the case will go to trial, which can be time-consuming and expensive. It also takes power from the spouses. Mediation and negotiations are preferable for this reason since the parties aren’t giving up total control to the judge. There also are more predictable results when you work through everything in the settlement process.

6.) Finalize the Judgment

The final step here is when the judge signs the judgment of divorce, also known as the order of dissolution. This ends the marriage and details the allocation of custodial responsibility, spousal and child support, division of debts and assets, and many other things. If they don’t go to trial, the filing spouse’s attorney will draft this judgment. Otherwise, the judge will handle all of this.

Divorce doesn’t have to be tricky and frustrating. Minimize the stress by getting assistance from Cape Girardeau Family Lawyers, who always have their clients’ best interests in mind. Reach out and talk to someone from the firm to decide if it’s the right fit.

Kelvin Birk

Kelvin Birk is a lawyer as well as a certified public accountant, with more than 30 years of experience in accounting, tax, and business consulting. Additionally, he has more than 20 years of experience in Family Law matters including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and numerous others.

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