After years of dealing with irreconcilable differences with your spouse, you have finally decided to end your marriage. You breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you will soon be free to lead your own life as you see fit. However, an unsettling feeling grips your stomach suddenly, as the looming question now is where exactly to begin.
The marital dissolution process can understandably be complicated and overwhelming. However, getting the process kick-started is not complicated, involving three basic steps.
1. Filling out the basics of the divorce petition
The first step in filing for divorce is to complete the paper-based filing process itself. This process involves submitting your divorce petition to the court. This legal documentation essentially tells the court that you are ready to get a divorce and want to start the process now.
The divorce petition contains a few important pieces of information. This information is as follows:
- Where you and your spouse got married, and on what date
- Your name and your spouse's name
- Your home address and your spouse's home address
- Your children's names
- The reason for your divorce -- if you are not filing for a no-fault divorce
You may also need to spell out exactly how you want various issues handled, such as how you want to divide your property, who will receive child custody, how visitation will work and how you want to settle your finances.
2. Seeking temporary orders
You might also need to determine if any temporary orders need to be in place in light of various financial and family issues during the divorce process. For instance, the court often grants temporary orders for the following matters:
- Child support payments
- Spousal support payments
- Which spouse should receive primary child custody
- A schedule for child visitation for the spouse who does not have custody
- Who will remain in the marital home
- How bills will be paid
Temporary orders governing these types of issues usually remain in effect up to the finalization of the divorce.
3. Serving the divorce petition
After you have filed your marital dissolution petition in court, making sure that this petition is served in a proper manner is critical. When the petition is served, this essentially means it is formally delivered to your spouse.
An experienced lawyer can carefully guide you through the process of initiating your divorce, from ensuring you fill out your initial paperwork properly to ensuring you serve the divorce petition in the manner required under Tennessee law. Acquiring legal counsel can also significantly increase your odds of obtaining the best possible outcome from your divorce, allowing you to more easily transition to a brighter future.