A divorce action begins when a spouse files a Petition for divorce. Certain residency requirements must be met, and the divorce cannot be granted for at least 60 days after filing.   

After a traditional litigated divorce suit is filed, Temporary Orders may be put in place.  Those Orders dictate what will happen while the divorce is pending (who will stay in the house, who will determine a child’s primary residence, etc.).  After that, information is collected.  Each spouse may be asked to prepare a formal inventory of assets and liabilities, and to place values on all listed items.

A divorce will only be granted after the couple reaches agreement on all issues. If an agreement is not possible, a divorce will only be granted after evidence is presented and a Judge or jury makes a decision. The final agreements or Courtroom decisions will be memorialized in a written Decree of Divorce, which will be signed by the Judge.  Depending on whether there are children and how property is divided, there may be additional Court orders signed by the Judge, and other closing documents signed by the parties to effectuate the terms of the Decree of Divorce.

In a collaborative divorce proceeding, the parties will file a Joint Petition for Divorce, and will then attend a series of meetings in which issues unique to that family’s situation are discussed.  The issues are the same, but the approach is different.  The parties pledge full disclosure and a cooperative effort, work to find agreement on all issues, and agree that the Court will not be involved unless and until the collaborative effort is declared a failure.  If that happens, the collaborative attorneys are discharged, and new litigation attorneys are hired to fight in Court.