There are numerous statistics floating around regarding divorce rates. Many of those statistics include comparisons that look at age, gender, children, and college degrees among other variables that may influence the pursuit of divorce. For many years, people have heard that 50 % of all marriages end in divorce. This number is widely criticized based on the difficulty of conducting such a study that truly represents actual marriage to divorce rates. However, the currently accepted percentage of divorces in the United States is around 42%. Of those 42%, studies show that the rate increases for 2nd, 3rd and 4th marriages. This information is all well and good for the curious reader, but how does it help someone who is thinking about or has started pursuing a divorce. If the couple is able to communicate and compromise on the division of property, finances and custody arrangements of children, the process is relatively simple. For the couple that just cannot seem to agree and things are getting more and more difficult, there are many qualified, experienced attorneys who can help facilitate the necessary agreements that are required for the court to finalize a divorce.
The first step
All states agree that the divorce process begins with a petition. Regardless of the nature of the couple’s relationship, a petition must be completed (by the plaintiff or petitioner) and served to the other person (defendant or respondent). There is no benefit or drawback from initiating the petition. Once it is completed and delivered to the respondent, he or she is then required to respond to the petition. State laws are specific about the information that should be included in the document; generally speaking, grounds for divorce, names of children, ages of children and living arrangements for all children as well as division of assets should be identified. In addition, the intent to pursue spousal and/or child support should be identified.
The next step
In the event that the respondent agrees with the petition, he or she will sign the document stating just that and the divorce is considered uncontested. A family law attorney can draw up any other necessary paperwork, in accordance with state laws. Provided everything is in order, the court will move the divorce along. If the respondent disagrees with any of the information in the petition, he or she will likely want to consult with an attorney and determine the proper way to file the response, according to state rules and time limits. A family law attorney in the respondent’s area will be the best person to consult with regarding the paperwork.
Contesting the petition and finding compromise
The court will do what it can to facilitate compromise in the divorce process. If the disagreement is over custody of the children, the court may assign an outside professional to meet with all family members and make a recommendation. If the compromise is lacking with spousal and child support or division of property, the judge will likely set up meetings with the couple and/or the attorneys to negotiate agreeable terms.
If you are thinking about divorce or have started the process and are not able to find a middle ground with your spouse, contact a Tampa, FL divorce attorney and set up a consultation.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law and facts about divorce.