Marriage stands as one of the oldest and most universal institutions in the world, traditionally designed to create a man-woman household that can raise children. This is still true today, and some nations have also legalized same-sex marriage as well. But in the modern age, divorce is also more common than ever, and when a spouse has divorce papers filed against them, they should know what to expect next. Both spouses may want to have divorce lawyers on their side, and they may act mainly through those divorce attorneys during this process. Family attorneys may also get involved if the household has children under 18 years old, and this can get complicated in court. But other divorces are simpler and more straightforward, and after the divorce papers are filed, the two spouses may only need mediators rather than lawyers. When the divorce papers are filed, what might come next?
Why Divorce Might Happen
Many statistics are kept to track how Americans marry and end those marriages. General trends show that today’s divorce rate may be as high as 40-50%, and a number of common causes have been identified. At the top of the list is infidelity, when one spouse is unfaithful to the other and is caught. The emotional trauma may be serious, and if marriage counseling does not fix this problem, then divorce papers might be next. Both men and women are known to cheat, though not always for the same reasons. Meanwhile, domestic abuse or substance abuse are also common catalysts for divorce. A spouse who beats, verbally abuses, or even sexually abuses other household members may likely see divorce papers filed against them. And if a spouse is abusing substances, this can greatly harm the household’s finances and cause unwanted personality changes.
Not all divorces are so dramatic, however. Many divorces take place simply because the spouses realize that they are not so compatible after all, and they may have very different lifestyles or spending habits. These low-intensity divorces may involve mediators rather than lawyers after the divorce papers are filed. Finally, it may be noted that two people who date for three or more years are more likely to maintain a long-lasting marriage than people who get engaged too soon after they meet.
Handling a Divorce
A spouse who is determined to get a divorce may secretly look to local divorce courts of law and law firms alike, and get professional help in starting this process. The spouse may consult lawyers working at local firms and get consultations (this may or may not incur a fee) and hire one who is to their liking. That spouse may then file divorce papers, and the other spouse might very well hire their own divorce lawyer to represent their side of the issue. If one spouse has been abusive in some fashion until now, the other spouse might even relocate themselves and their children to another, private residence during the divorce and only interact with the other spouse through attorneys.
Both sides may contest the assets of their marriage through their lawyers, such as bank accounts, cars and recreational vehicles, a house or vacation home, or even family heirlooms or a privately owned business. If there are children involved, the spouses may hire child custody lawyers, and a child aged 12 or over may privately consult the judge about their preferences of where they live after the divorce.
Hiring a Mediator
If the marriage had relatively few assets, and/or the divorcing spouses can get along for this process, they may hire mediators rather than lawyers. Mediators are neutral third parties who will help draw out productive, fair ideas from each spouse, and act as a sort of lubricant for the negotiations that the spouses will have with each other. These mediators won’t even offer their own ideas or suggestions unless asked. A perk to hiring mediators is that it is much more private than going through a divorce court, and mediators are often much cheaper to hire than divorce lawyers are, anyway. If the spouses can negotiate their own divorce and divvy up assets one on one, a mediator is all they need, and that mediator keeps the proceedings fair and constructive the entire time.