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Divorce is probably not part of the plan when people get married, but it is a harsh reality for many couples. Getting a divorce in America is a relatively straightforward endeavor, depending on the type of separation and the state jurisdiction. The most common way to get divorced is through the courts, which can take three months to over a year, depending on the proceedings. It may not be the case, though, as some opt for an uncontested divorce which only requires the parties agree and their signatures. In no-fault divorces, neither party has to prove cruel treatment or infidelity. There are fault-based divorces, though, which entail blame on one partner for the separation. Least-fault divorce is also an option and is triggered when one spouse is at less fault, or they opt to file against their partner. Regardless, considering the state of residence, these divorce options may have different attached criteria.
To get a divorce in Texas, one of the parties must have been domiciled in the state for six months. Their domicile is the primary residence, considering they may live in more than one state. Should the divorce be uncontested, both partners have to agree that conflicts have made the union unsustainable, with no expectation they may settle their differences. The state also allows for fault-based grounds, like cruel treatment, which makes a living together untenable, abandonment for at least a year, or imprisonment for at least one year. In Texas, alimony is required if the union lasted at least ten years. It should also be such that the party seeking maintenance needs more income, the earning ability to provide, or their minimum needs. Even in these cases, the party seeking alimony has to demonstrate a willingness to get employment or the skills to support themselves. That is, unless the party does not work outside because of mental or physical impairment.
Once the parties have assembled and completed all required forms, they will be filed with the court clerk in the county of residence. Applicants must pay a filing fee ranging from $250 to $400, depending on the county, unless they qualify for a waiver. Having filed the divorce petition, one can issue their spouse a copy of the petition along with other paperwork.
Before filing for a divorce in Florida, either spouse must fit the six-month residency criteria. Proof of the residency requirement will also be needed when filing the paperwork in court. That is a copy of the current identification card, voter's registration or driver's license issued six months before the filing date. Florida has both simplified and regular dissolution of marriage divorce options. The spouses ask the courts for divorce in uncontested separations. These can be handled without legal counsel. In regular dissolution, though, one spouse asks the courts for the divorce, and they become the petitioner. In contested divorces, the spouses cannot or will not agree on marital property division or child custody.
As with the other states, it is advisable first to consider one's residency status. Either spouse needs to have lived in California for six months and in one county for three. The next step is filling out the petition and summons forms. They provide basic information on the marriage and the type of orders both partners desire. It also includes a summoning to the other spouse indicating a divorce petition, and they have 30 days to respond. The couple has to consider if they will require the court to decide immediately, like where the children will live or if there are financial needs following the split. Some courts have additional local forms, so these have to be filled out according to the county of residence.
Married individuals that would like to file for a divorce in Michigan must have been living in the state for at least 180 days. Either spouse must have lived in the county where the petition originated for ten days. If one of the spouses lives outside the state, the other must have lived in Michigan for a year. Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, so spouses are not required to prove cruel treatment or infidelity as the cause. Contested divorces in the state begin when one files a Complaint for Divorce and Summons via the courts. One must have the documents served to their spouse within 90 days of filing the complaint. After filing the divorce, there is a mandatory wait time of 60 days before the hearing. Contested divorces, though, may take longer than six months to finalize.
Pennsylvania requires either spouse to have lived in the state for six months before they can file for divorce. In most courts, the couple must file a Complaint for divorce along with a Notice to Defend. That is to summon the spouse to divorce proceedings. For contested divorces, though, the court may order the case handled by a divorce master. These are court-appointed lawyers with experience in divorce litigation. Following the hearings, the divorce master will give a recommendation to the judge on the contentious points. The couple may disagree with these decisions, but the judge will issue a final decree if there are no disagreements.
As with most states, the spouses must have been residents for six months. Petitioners have to file for divorce with the Clerk of the Superior Court within the county their spouse lives. Some counties also require that one files their divorce paperwork online, and the fees vary from one county to another. Once the forms have been filed, the state requires the petitioner to serve the divorce documents personally. The spouse has 30 days to respond to the complaint, which will be ‘Answer or Counterclaim.' That will dictate if the divorce is contested or not. Both must provide information on their income, assets, and debts as part of financial disclosure.
The residency requirement for couples wanting to get a divorce is 90 days before filing. It is also a no-fault state, allowing a divorce based on irreconcilable differences and separate living conditions. When spouses have agreed on the separation of resources and children, it is possible to have an uncontested divorce. To this end, the spouses must file a petition or dissolution, judgment of dissolution, parenting plan, summons, and entry of appearance. Much documentation for a contested divorce is similar, so care should be taken when responding to a petition. After a spouse responds, the court will set a date for the hearing. If the clerk does not automatically schedule one, requesting one would be advisable. The presiding judge will then make decisions concerning any issues not agreed upon.
Divorce proceedings vary from one state to another. Divorce can be filed via the county or court clerks of your state, and the fees have a wide range. Many states allow for no-fault divorce types, which allow separation on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. That provides for uncontested mutual splits, which take less time to finalize. In contested divorces, the couple presents their case to the court via legal counsel. It is up to a judge or mediator to advise on the path forward, depending on the state.