Getting a divorce may seem convoluted. There are different steps and terms, and they can become very complex. For that reason, it is essential to become familiar with how divorce proceeds. Read on to see The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates’s stages of a divorce case.
Before a Divorce
When getting a divorce, it is crucial to speak with a divorce lawyer. But before you can hire a lawyer, there are a few things you will need to check, mainly residency requirements and your grounds for divorce.
Meet Residency Requirements
If both spouses live in Alabama, you can file a divorce at any time. If the spouse filing for divorce lives in Alabama, but the other spouse does not, the spouse filing must have been a resident for at least six months.
Have Grounds for Divorce
You must also have a legally acceptable reason to end your marriage. In Alabama, this can include adultery, abuse, or addiction. There are twelve total grounds for divorce. However, Alabama does allow a no-fault divorce for incompatibility.
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Intake & Onboarding
One of the first stages of a divorce case is intake and onboarding. During these processes, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the firm, share your goals for the divorce, and what you hope to accomplish with the law firm.
The intake process happens when you first call the law firm. They will ask you for basic information, like your name, contact information, and goals for the case. In this stage, you and the firm can decide if you are a good fit for each other.
Onboarding will happen if you and the firm decide to work with each other. You will likely be assigned a legal team and receive more information about how your case will proceed. The firm should allow you to ask questions throughout the process, especially in this stage.
Once you go through intake and onboarding, you and your attorney will enter the pleadings stage. This term refers to the initial paperwork you file with the courts, including the plaintiff’s divorce complaint and the defendant’s answer.
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The discovery process involves both parties gathering information in the divorce proceedings. You and your attorney will work through the information necessary to continue the case, so you will need to be honest with your lawyer so they can get an accurate picture.
Your attorney may gather information through different processes. Your attorney will likely use one of the following methods to get the information needed.
- Interrogatories: a written question that you and your attorney will send to your partner that they must answer.
- Requests for Production: a legal request for documents like property rights, medical records, or emails.
- Request for Admission: a request to admit or deny the truth of a statement while under oath.
- Deposition: a sworn, out-of-court testimony.
All of these may be admissible in court, and your partner’s attorney will likely ask for you to comply with these methods. Your attorney will walk you through the necessary steps to handle the discovery process.
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Trial or Mediation
After the discovery process, your lawyer may advise you to take the case to trial or participate in a mediation session. Both are reasonable options but have pros and cons that you need to discuss with your attorney.
A trial will involve going to the courthouse to discuss your case. This option may be good if you or your spouse feel like you can’t agree on any divisions in property or childcare. However, going to court is risky, as the judge may not rule in your favor.
Mediation is cheaper, faster, and it gives you more control. You, your attorney, your partner, and your partner’s attorney will meet with an independent third party trained in settling most divorce disputes. This route is more accessible but may not be a good option if you or your spouse are unwilling to compromise.
Not every divorce will end with the satisfaction of both parties. If you are not happy with how the court ruled or thought they got it wrong, you can file an appeal. Filing for an appeal would need to be a decision you and your attorney make together.
Speak to a Divorce Attorney
The different stages of a divorce can be overwhelming, so it is critical to speak with a lawyer. Additionally, an attorney will help you work through each step and provide emotional support throughout the process.
If you are interested in learning more about the different stages, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll guide you through the process and be there for you during this difficult time.