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Filing for divorce

To begin the divorce process, you must file paperwork with the court and serve it to the other party.

Filing for divorce overview

Filing for divorce is the first step in the divorce process. Here's what you'll need to do to get started.

1. Know where to file

If you are a resident in a state, you can usually file for divorce in that state. It typically does not matter where the marriage occurred. To be a resident, you typically must have lived in the state for a certain period of time, ranging from 90 days to 1 year. There may also be local residency requirements based on your county.

2. Gather relevant documents

Finding an attorney to help you with filing for divorce is important. Before you consult with a lawyer, you should gather documents that are going to be relevant in your divorce proceedings. Relevant documents include:

  • Property deeds and titles
  • Receipts from large joint purchases
  • Tax returns
  • Bank statements
  • Other records of finances to get a clear picture of joint versus individual assets
  • Documents that would prove the reason for divorce, such as proof of abuse or adultery.

3. File a divorce petition

Where to get a divorce petition

The divorce petition is the first piece of paperwork that you, the petitioner, will file against your spouse, the respondent. The filing fee for divorce petitions are usually around $300, but could be more or less. The petition begins the process of the divorce. You can usually get a divorce petition from your local court that handles divorce matters, typically a state or county court. Courts often have the petitions available to print on court websites. Once the petitioner files the petition, the respondent can file a response to the petition, especially if they contest the divorce. However, courts do not normally require a respondent to respond.

What to include in a divorce petition

Each state has its own divorce laws, and most require that you state your grounds for divorce in the divorce petition. In most states, grounds for divorce include cruel treatment, abandonment, adultery, abuse, imprisonment, or separation for a period of time. Most states also have no-fault divorces, which do not require a specific ground, but do require you and your spouse to have irreconcilable differences or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Additionally, you may have to include in the divorce petition what exactly it is that you want out of the divorce, such as alimony or child support.

4. Serve the papers to your spouse

Service of process is how you notify your spouse, the respondent, that you are seeking a divorce against them. The filing fee varies but is usually around $50. Most states require you to serve papers in person, called personal service. Sometimes courts will allow you to serve process by mail or by publication, but only under very specific circumstances.

Once you have filed for divorce and notified your spouse, you can get started on drafting your separation agreement. If you and your spouse can agree on the details of your separation agreement, you can speed up the process and file for uncontested divorce.

Talitha Davies Wegner | Aug 11, 2014

A Checklist Before Divorce

Finances / Property o If you have not yet mentioned divorce, make copies of all financial records prior to announcing you want a divorce. o After date of separation open a new bank account in your name only for your pay to be deposited. Keep all separate earnings separate. o Make sure you have exclusive access to liquid funds or a credit card in case of emergency. o Change all passwords important accounts. o Scan or make copies of important financial records, tax returns for last 5 years and any records of property or investments made during marriage. o Scan or make copies of important records showing that property / investments were purchased during marriage or after separation with separate property earnings. o Scan or make copies of any records showing property you inherited before, during or after marriage o Scan or make copies of any debt that you owe, if you don't know what debts are at issue, run a credit check on yourself. o Pay attention to the automatic restraining orders and do not violate them o If your ex is lying about money, earnings, business matters or community finances, let us know immediately. Children o Gather records for monthly expenses such as child care, tuition and other school costs, extracurricular activities, medical care, insurance, food, entertainment, tutors, etc. o Scan or make copies of any records such as school, medical, and birth. o Remember your child(ren) are both of you - if you criticize the other parent in front of the child, you are criticizing the child. o Document and gather evidence if the other parent has health / sobriety / other issues impairing their ability to keep children safe in their care. Miscellaneous o Change your email password(s) and any other passwords your ex could easily guess. o Save all written communication between you two - emails, texts, notices, etc. o Do not post photographs of yourself with new girlfriends or boyfriends on media sites like Facebook until your divorce is final and all issues have been resolved. o Think twice before sending any written communication via email, text or other methods. Imagine it printed out and blown up in court in front of a judge. o When dressing for court, wear conservative clothing and accessories. o Avoid confrontational situations involving your ex. o Remember divorce is a grieving process. You are likely to be emotional and your judgment may be impaired. Be gentle with yourself, get enough rest, eat nourishing food, exercise, try yoga / meditation and when you can, get outside and experience nature. o Hiking in the hills or walking on the beach will bring you outside yourself, and remind you of who you were before you met your ex. o Nature and getting outside yourself will help you traverse the path to your next chapter. o If you are lonely, join organized activities, volunteer or take up something you always wanted to do. o Reach out if you need help.

Santo V. Artusa Jr. | Dec 3, 2012

Step by Step Divorce in Jersey City, New Jersey

Filing of the New Jersey divorce complaint With every filing of a New Jersey divorce complaint, the party bringing the action (the plaintiff) must allege the grounds for the divorce, state where he or she lives, whether children were born from the marriage, what the plaintiff seeks from the defendant, where the defendant lives (if known).In NJ, the most common plea for divorce is known as irreconcilable differences, which is that the parties experienced these differences for a period of six months or more prior to the filing of the complaint and that there is no prospect of getting back together. Extreme cruelty is another plea that is used in which the plaintiff alleges that the defendant engaged in conduct that the court would deem cruel and can include adultery and domestic violence but does not require the same level of proof as adultery would. Living Separate and Apart for a period of 18 months or more is another. Once you decide which reason to use, your lawyer will prepare additional papers that are requrd. Court Fees and Process Service The divorce filing fee to the State of New Jersey is now $300. Upon providing the court with the fee and the necessary paperwork (divorce complaint, non-collusion, affidavit of insurance, notice of ADR, affidavit of non-military service), the defendant must be served with the summons and divorce papers. The method to which the defendant is served is very important. In New Jersey, a defendant cannot be served via mail except if you receive an order from the Court permitting you to do so. In New Jersey, personal service is required on the defendant. Once service has been completed, proof of such service must be sent to the Court. The Defendant has 35 days to answer the divorce complaint in writing and pay a fee of $135. If you have been served, answer as fast as you can. After the 35 days and either: no response, or during the 35 days a response After the defendant has been served and 35 days has elapsed without an answer, the defendant has defaulted and the plaintiff can seek a divorce date outlining what the plaintiff seeks. Certain rules must be followed to receive monetary and other relief. If the rules are followed, the Judge will issue his or her ruling and you will be divorce that day (2-6 months time).If the defendant answered, the case takes a contested track and is harder to finish if the parties do not see eye to eye on their financial and/or custody issues, which is often. The next step is a case management conference which varies greatly from county to county, judge to judge. Working with an attorney that appears frequently before the Judges in your county could save you time and money in the end. Contested Track As indicated in section 3, case management conferences vary depending on the county in which your case is filed and which Judge has been assigned to your case. For example, in Hudson County Family Court, the Judges do not require attorneys to appear and the need to appear can be eliminated with a case management order. However, in Essex and Bergen, the Judges may demand an appearance, a memorandum of the issues in dispute, and a case information statement. Testimony is not given by the parties at the case management conference. The Case Management Order and Conference help the Judge understand what the issues are and how much time the parties will be given in the discovery process. During the discovery process, both parties can request extensive information from each side (several years of tax returns, pension values, bank statements, 401k statements, etc). Early Settlement Conference and New Jersey Motion Practice Once discovery is complete in a New Jersey divorce, the parties with their attorneys attend the early settlement panel which is a very useful part of the divorce process. In some counties you need an attorney to participate, in others you do not. The early settlement panel consists of between one panel member to up to four who are experienced matrimonial attorneys who will try to help the parties settle the financial issues in their case (custody and parenting time is left to court mediators or the Judge in a motion). These panelists hear both sides and try their best to resolve the issues in the case and if the issues are resolved, the parties can be divorced that day. Before or after the Early Settlement Panel, litigants can bring motions so that certain aspects of the case can be resolved in the short-term (custody, child support, alimony, counsel fees, etc). Economic Mediation or Trial If the early settlement panel fails, the next step is economic mediation which is similar to the early settlement panel but is not free and only involves one mediator. If economic mediation fails, then a trial date will be set and the Judge will decide all issues in your case. Not only is a trial expensive but it is also risky at times as the Judge will make a final decision and to change that is extremely difficult. It is important to present your case the right way from the start and try hard to settle the case. If you are considering a divorce or have been served, you can contact my office on 201-706-7910 today.

Rachel Aliza Elovitz | Nov 23, 2012


RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT To file for divorce in Georgia, you need to have been a bona fide resident of Georgia for six months prior to the filing of the divorce petition. WHEN PERSONAL JURISDICTION IS NOT REQUIRED The Georgia Supreme Court has held that personal jurisdiction over the defendant (the person against whom the divorce is filed) is not a prerequisite to the grant of a divorce by a Georgia Court. To be clear, that is ONLY when the relief sought is limited to the grant of a divorce - not alimony, attorney's fees, or other relief. JURISDICTION OVER THE "RES" OF THE MARRIAGE - MARITAL DOMICILE If a petitioner is simply looking to dissolve the marriage (i.e. if he or she only wants a divorce) and is not requesting any other relief, then he or she need only show that the court has jurisdiction over what the law and lawyers refer to as the "res of the marriage," a matrimonial domicile (marital residence) in this state for the six-month period preceding the filing of the divorce (OCGA ? 19-5-2). JUDGMENT "IN REM" - MARITAL PROPERTY LOCATED IN GEORGIA The Court can also render a judgment "in rem" with respect to the marital property located within its territory (property in Georgia). WHEN PERSONAL JURISDICTION IS REQUIRED - REQUESTS FOR OTHER RELIEF Personal jurisdiction over a defendant is required if the petitioner (the person filing for divorce) is seeking relief other than the grant of the divorce, including, as examples, alimony, attorney's fees, or division of assets outside the state. However, if a defendant resides out of state, personal jurisdiction can sometimes be obtained through the "Long Arm Statute." THE LONG ARM STATUTE - OBTAINING PERSONAL JURISDICTION The Long Arm Statute (OCGA Section 9-10-91) allows for jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to proceedings for divorce, if the parties maintained a matrimonial domicile (a marital home) in Georgia at the time of the commencement of the divorce action or if the defendant resided in Georgia preceding the commencement of the action, irrespective of whether the parties were cohabiting during that time. In other words, if your spouse resided in Georgia prior to the action for divorce being filed, even if he or she was not living with you, or if you maintained a marital home in Georgia prior to the divorce action being filed, the Long Arm Statute will apply. WHEN THE LONG ARM STATUTE DOES NOT APPLY If you and your spouse did not maintain a matrimonial domicile in Georgia at the time of the commencement of the divorce action or if the defendant (your spouse) did not reside in Georgia preceding the commencement of the action, then an action seeking alimony, division of property located outside the state, and/or attorney's fees would have to be filed in the county in which the defendant (your spouse) resides, pursuant to Article VI, Section II, Paragraph I of the Georgia Constitution. If your spouse resides out of Georgia, then you will want to speak to an attorney who practices in the State and county in which your spouse resides. PERSONAL JURISDICTION IN CASES INVOLVING CHILD CUSTODY As for custody, effective July 1, 2001, Georgia repealed the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (the "UCCJA") and enacted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"). Under the UCCJEA, one basis for a Georgia court's exercise of jurisdiction over an initial custody determination is that Georgia is the "home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding." OCGA ? 19-9-61(a)(1) and OCGA ? 19-9-41(7). The UCCJEA, however, does not give the Court personal jurisdiction over child support, divorce, alimony, or contempt matters. Daniels v. Barnes, 289 Ga.App. 897, 658 S.E.2d 472 (2008). Accordingly, if you are seeking custody in connection with a divorce action, you will want to make sure that you meet the necessary jurisdictional requirements, noted above, for filing a divorce.

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