How To Divorce: What are the steps? - Collaborative Family Law Association of St. Louis

Collaborative Family Law Association

< Back to All Posts

How To Divorce: What are the steps?

Alan Freed

If you are divorcing, chances are it’s the first time you’ve dealt with a lawyer and the court system. Dealing with the unknown can be scary and intimidating. The best way to start managing your fears is to arm yourself with knowledge about how to divorce.

So, what are the divorce steps you can expect to go through?

Initial Divorce Steps

The steps involved in the legal process are:

  • The filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage (that’s what Missouri calls divorce). Most petitions look alike—facts about the date of your marriage and separation, a few facts about your kids, and the critical language, that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
  • Along with the petition, most courts require you to file financial statements. These are affidavits that include all of your property and debts, as well as your income and expenses.
  • The petition needs to be “served” on your spouse. If your spouse is represented by an attorney, the attorney can “accept service,” and eliminate the need for your spouse to be handed the papers by a process server. Many cases are handled this way, to avoid surprise and embarrassment.
  • The filing of an “answer” to the petition. Since most of the petition is a series of non-controversial facts, the answer will simply admit those facts. Even if the facts are denied, nothing is resolved one way or the other until all of the facts can be sorted out.

Additional Divorce Steps

From this point forward, many different things can happen. Depending upon the particulars of your case, the lawyers may want to gather financial or other information through a process called “discovery.” This can include sending “subpoenas” to employers, banks, credit card companies, and other institutions.

In some cases, there is a need to establish temporary orders, referred to as “PDL orders.” These orders can include establishing a parenting schedule, support payments, payments of attorneys’ fees, and other rules to keep things on as even a keel as possible while the case is being resolved. If both sides can’t agree on these, judges will sometimes step in to assist the family.

Some cases will also use a “guardian ad litem,” an attorney whose sole job is to protect your children’s interests. If a GAL is appointed, the husband and wife will generally be ordered to pay for the GAL’s fees.

While all of these steps are going on, the attorneys will try to assist their clients in resolving all of the divorce issues in their case to reach a settlement. Judges will sometimes schedule settlement conferences, both to make sure the case is making progress, and also to help the two sides come together. Most cases are not tried before a judge; most are settled. If your case is settled, you will probably not ever have to go into court. If you can’t settle, you will find yourself in a courtroom.

Some cases, including all cases that use the Collaborative Process, are settled before anyone files any documents with the court. In those cases, you can expect all of the divorce steps listed above, but none of the other divorce steps such as discovery and PDL orders.

Talk to a Collaborative attorney about how to divorce and whether this problem-solving process is a good alternative for you.

More Posts from this Author

July 26, 2019
Collaborative Divorce and Mental Health — A Lawyer’s Perspective

Any marriage can fail, but throw mental illness into the mix of marital stressors, and the risk of marital failure increases. Problems such as depression and alcohol addiction can create instability in the home that makes sustaining the marriage difficult or impossible. Traditional Divorce The traditional divorce process, which is based upon rights and obligations […]

Read More
October 20, 2018
Collaborative Practice and the Economics of Divorce

Facing a divorce is a daunting, sometimes frightening prospect, and “How much will my divorce cost?” is perhaps the most consistent concern among those considering ending their marriages. As with so many other divorce-related issues, the answer is usually, “It depends.” Aside from issues such as valuation, misconduct, hiding assets, addiction, and dissipation, all of […]

Read More
February 12, 2018
Parenting Plans and Collaborative Divorce

If you are getting divorced and have children 18 years old or under, you will have a parenting plan as part of your divorce judgment. A parenting plan establishes the schedule for the children’s care, the manner in which decisions regarding the children’s health and welfare will be made, and the support arrangements for the […]

Read More
August 18, 2016
How To Divorce: What are the steps?

If you are divorcing, chances are it’s the first time you’ve dealt with a lawyer and the court system. Dealing with the unknown can be scary and intimidating. The best way to start managing your fears is to arm yourself with knowledge about how to divorce. So, what are the divorce steps you can expect […]

Read More
May 20, 2015
What is Collaborative Divorce?

by Alan Freed When most people think of divorce they picture an angry, vindictive process that leaves the family in disarray and their relationships in shambles.  Collaborative divorce is a process that allows divorcing couples to focus all of their efforts and resources on the settlement of their divorces, rather than on preparing for trial. […]

Read More

St. Louis Collaborative Family Law Association

Divorce … A Different Way, A Better Way, With Integrity.
© Copyright 2022 - Collaborative Family Law Association - All Rights Reserved
crossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram