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A General Timeline of the Divorce Process

Going through a divorce can be an understandably overwhelming process. Not only do you have to deal with all the emotional elements of ending your marriage, but you likely are also unfamiliar with the divorce court system and the various procedures involved.

To help make this a little easier, the following is a general timeline of how the divorce process typically works:

  1. Collecting documents: After you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, you will begin collecting important information, such as account statements, insurance policies, mortgage paperwork, medical records and retirement accounts. This information will help you and your attorney develop a strategy as you move ahead.
  2. Filing the paperwork: The case does not truly begin until one of you commencing the Divorce action by filing a Summons with Notice in the County where the case is pending.  You then serve it to the other party and then must file the affidavit of service with the County Clerk. . After this Summons has been served, the other spouse must appear in the action within a period of time specified in the Summons.
  3. Mediation: In some circumstances, the court provide you with the option to participate in  mediation at the beginning of the case to attempt to resolve key issues outside the courtroom. This could expedite the entire divorce process and save you a great deal of time and money.  However, prior to executing any agreement prepared by a mediator, you should have your attorney review same in detail, to ensure that the Agreement is in your best interests.
  4. Discovery: During the discovery process, both parties exchange financial information and documentation and may also submit to a deposition. It may be necessary to hire expires to evaluate assets such as real property, businesses and personal property. During discovery, you will be required to provide certain information.
  5. Negotiation: In a sense, negotiation has been happening throughout this whole process, but at this point the parties will reach a settlement and inform the court (if a settlement is going to be reached out of court). You will be required to provide the Judge with proof that your Agreement has been executed.
  6. Trial: If the couple cannot reach a settlement, the case goes to trial. There, family law attorneys will call witnesses and present evidence to argue their clients’ cases. This process can be both time consuming and very expensive.  However, when there is an impasse, this may be your only option.
  7. Decision: When the trial is complete, the judge makes a final decision. That decision is written and the terms of same are incorporated into your final divorce decree.  The decision will be legally binding. It will contain a full set of terms by which each spouse must abide.   You may appeal the decision of the Court.

For more information and guidance on the divorce process, contact a skilled family law attorney with Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.