Just like two people, no two divorces are the same. Many variables come into play in a divorce, making them all unique.
Whether you are on the fence about getting a divorce or if you’re confident, you may be wondering what the process will look like for you and your spouse. Continue reading as we take a look at the divorce process at a glance so you can know what to expect.
The Couple Separates
Before a divorce occurs, a couple often separates. Separation is a time for spouses to focus on themselves to ensure the divorce is imminent or to decide if they want to reconcile. Separation may include the parties residing in the same home or one party moving out and obtaining their separate residence. If they choose to proceed with the divorce process, the next step would be filing a petition with the court.
While some states legally require married couples to separate for “x” amount of time, there are no legal separation time requirements for either Missouri or Kansas. A couple can proceed with filing for a divorce when they decide to and don’t have to show proof of having legally separated for “x” amount of months before filing for divorce. Though it isn’t a requirement to be separated for some time before filing for divorce, Kansas law requires legal separation to be recorded.
Filing of Petition
Once a married couple separates and agrees that divorce is their next step, a petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed. A petition for divorce lets the court know the parties involved, why they’re seeking a divorce, and what issues need to be settled in the divorce process. The petition is usually filed in the county where the petitioner (the spouse who legally starts the divorce process) or the respondent (the other spouse) lives.
The petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed with the court along with a court fee and other required forms that vary based on the county in which you file. After the petition is filed with the court, the next step is serving the other spouse.
Service of Process
You’ve probably seen someone get “served” divorce papers on the big screen or on a television show. While some shows and movies are dramatic in their portrayals, there is some accuracy on the big screen in how a spouse is served.
Once the petitioner files the petition, due process dictates that the respondent must be notified. In Missouri, papers can be served by Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Personal Service, personal service by the sheriff or private or special process server, or by publication. In Kansas, divorce papers can be served by Voluntary Entrance of Appearance, Sheriff’s Service, or by certified mail.
Temporary Motion or Hearing
While the divorce is pending there may be a quick motion or hearing to establish temporary legal terms regarding child custody, maintenance and child support, and division of assets. Temporary motions or hearings are a great way to set some legal terms in place while the divorce case is ongoing. There are many things that both parties and attorneys can address at the temporary motion or hearing including but not limited to the following:
- Child support
- Custody arrangements
- Delegating a spouse to provide maintenance to the other if needed
- Who is responsible for bills
- Who has possession of the marital home
While some divorce cases need a temporary motion or hearing to sort things out quickly, some don’t.
Once both parties have gathered everything they need for discovery then they’ll work on a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement is a document that outlines what both parties are responsible for post-divorce. It covers everything from legal and physical custody, child support, spousal maintenance, visitation, division of property and assets, etc.
If the agreement is accepted by both parties and the court finds it acceptable then the divorce or dissolution of marriage will be final on the date the judge signs the divorce decree.
Mediation is a great way to resolve issues with your spouse without being in a courtroom setting and having a judge present. Even couples who can’t agree on everything at first often agree with the help of mediation. Mediation is a non-binding, confidential process that occurs with a neutral third party, who is often a lawyer themselves and can be either with or without assistance of attorneys. There are many benefits to mediation, but one primary benefit is to save the parties the time and expense (both financial and emotional) of trial and obtain a known result for the parties.
Though most family law cases settle out of court, some cases are tried in front of a judge. If this is the case, your attorney will work with you to gather and present evidence as it pertains to your case during trial.
The divorce process can contain many other steps and processes as each case is unique. The above is just a glance at what you can expect if you are going through the divorce process.
If you are going through the divorce process and are looking for a family law attorney in Kansas (in and around the Leawood area) or a family law attorney in Kansas City and the surrounding area, The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through any family law matter keeping your best interests in mind. With over fifty-four years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, Platte County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we’re able to meet in person or face-to-face via Zoom.