Divorce is the legal process of legally terminating a marital relationship or marriage. Divorce generally involves the reorganizing or cancelling of the legal obligations and responsibilities of a married couple, thereby dissolving the marital ties under the existing law of that state or country. A divorce involves the termination or surrender of legal rights and privileges attached to a marital relationship by one of the spouses. For instance, a divorce may be initiated by one spouse simply wishing to end the marriage; another spouse may have an existing marriage that is considered unhappy and no longer suitable for procreation or for bearing children, and in some other instances one spouse may be of an older age and unable to conceive children naturally.
In order for a divorce process to commence, a divorce decree must be filed in the appropriate court. A divorce proceeding can either be an oral or written motion and is decided accordingly. The initial motion is generally filed in one of two ways: voluntarily or involuntarily. A voluntarily filed divorce involves one or both spouses making an offer of dissolution, commonly referred to as “a statement of claim”. If acceptance is made, then a date for a divorce trial will be scheduled.
An involuntary divorce occurs when either spouse files a counter-claim against the other spouse to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO). In order to obtain TROs, the court orders that each spouse leave the other and not return to the other until the court decides. A TRO can only be issued for fourteen days and is effective immediately. A temporary restraining order (TRO) is effective only while the case is being processed through the court system. Once a TRO is issued, it cannot be revoked.
After filing the divorce petition, both parties are required to attend divorce court. If a request for a trial is granted by either spouse, this meeting is referred to a “pre-trial conference” (PTOC). At this meeting, the lawyers make a presentation of their cases to the judge, and this is when important evidence will be considered. Only relevant evidence will be considered by the judge at the conference. If a settlement is reached on the hearing date, a certificate of divorce will be issued by the judge to one party, and an agreement will be signed by the other spouse.
If neither spouse objects at the time of the conference, a divorce decree is then entered after the conference. The decree consists of one or more legal documents, including the order of divorce, the separation agreement, custody agreement, and child custody agreements. It will also include any other financial documentation that is necessary, such as a retirement plan or annuity. One document that is used is commonly referred to as a “contingency plan”. This contingency plan is designed to provide each party with an estimate of future living expenses.
A last-minute motion to dismiss can occur prior to the final hearing if a party objects to the divorce at any stage of the process. This motion is called a “motion of limitation”. Once a motion to dismiss has been filed, it cannot be filed against the other spouse. The same goes for a request for a trial date, if a trial date is not already scheduled.