The Dissolution action is commenced with a "Summons" and a "Petition". Parties often ask courts for Temporary Orders to issue quickly, to be in effect while the Dissolution action progresses. The issues of property division, parenting plans, and child support may be resolved by agreement, mediation, or the ruling of a judge. The divorce is final upon the issuing of a "Decree of Dissolution". The forms for the necessary documents may be on-line. Some States require the use of the standard forms.
Property division in a dissolution is usually supposed to be "fair", "just", and "equitable". That does not always require an exact, mathematical accounting of the value of each item of real or personal property. Some States recognize the concept of "community property", and some merely require "equitable distribution". In "community property" States, property acquired during the course of the marriage is considered community property, with certain exceptions such as property acquired by gift or inheritance. Property owned before the marriage is separate property. In "equitable distribution" States, divorcing spouses may be required to compensate the other spouse from separate property assets.
The major concern of courts in dissolution actions is "what's in the best interests of the child"? Towards answering that question, courts often require Parenting Plans. Parenting Plans set forth the times where children will be with each parent. For very young children (i.e. under five), the mother is often presumed to be the best primary residential care giver. Often, Parenting Plans will be specific about many details of the parents' rights and responsibilities. Since children have a need to interact with their parents, courts tend to favor having both parents actively participate in the parenting of the child. Where parents have had problems with drugs/alcohol or domestic violence, sometimes the visitation with children must be supervised.
An essential responsibility of a parent is to make sure sufficient financial resources are provided for the care of the children. The amount of child support required can be calculated according to the earnings of each parent. Usually, the amount of child support is more for children who are older.
If parties disobey a court's orders, it is possible for the parties to make motions to the court for orders enforcing the orders. Courts have the power to hold disobedient parties in contempt. This can include imposing fines and jail time.
Parties can usually move for modification of orders upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances. There can also be motions and documents regarding relocation of parties.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone needing basic information regarding dissolution of marriage. It can be of great benefit to confer and consult with an attorney practicing in the field in your geographical area. [This article is intended to provide basic information about family law. It does not purport to give legal advice about any particular case, nor does it commence an attorney-client relationship.]