How to get a divorce can often feel like a giant question mark, but Collaborative Practice Kansas City is here to help. We offer both divorce mediation and collaborative divorce as a means of minimizing conflict for negotiating the best possible outcomes. There are five crucial steps that apply regardless of your choice of how to get a divorce.
1. Initial Petition
Depending upon the divorce process option you choose, the initial petition for divorce serves to notify the court that you intend to divorce. This first step begins the “separation” period and states the reason for divorce. If your divorcing spouse filed the initial petition, you will need to file an initial response to the petition.
You must file for divorce in the state where you reside. Typically, you must have been a resident of the state for at least two to six months, or sometimes more, to file for divorce. These laws prevent divorcing spouses from filing in a different state where laws are more favorable to them. In Kansas, the residency requirement is 60-days and in Missouri, it’s 90-days.
2. Cooling-Off Period
Most states require a cooling-off period between the initial filing and finalizing the divorce. In Missouri, it is 30 days, and in Kansas, you must wait 60 days. This is to make sure the couple truly wants the divorce, and allow time for cooler heads to prevail. These are merely minimum waiting periods, however. Many divorces take significantly longer to be ready to finalize, depending upon the divorce process option you and your spouse choose.
3. Temporary Orders
During the cooling-off period, in some states you may file for temporary orders granting temporary spousal/child support and custody orders, which may not be the same as the final orders. These orders typically preserve the current circumstances and can allow the family a place to start as they figure out how to get a divorce that best suits their needs.
This is the point in the process of how to get a divorce where you work with a mediator or collaborative team to negotiate all of the terms of your divorce. The negotiations can begin even before the initial petition has been filed, particularly if both spouses choose to mediate or utilize the collaborative process. The negotiation process in mediation and collaborative approach are relatively relaxed, and lines of communication are kept open. This allows for brainstorming of unique solutions to fit the needs of each family versus being processed through what may feel like a cookie-cutter solution devised by a judge in a litigation case.
The collaborative approach provides options that are not possible in a traditional litigated or “contested” divorce. If you and your spouse agree on the details, you should be able to divide your assets and handle child issues in ways that may be better suited to your family and/or situation. This flexibility can make negotiations far simpler.
The process of a contested or litigated divorce usually involves the use of formal legal procedures known as “discovery,” to obtain financial and other relevant information at this stage. Discovery may include the use of court-ordered testimony taken before a court reporter, known as depositions. In a collaborative divorce or successful mediation, discovery and subpoenas are unnecessary because you and your spouse agree to transparently provide all information requested by the mediator/collaborative team.
If mediation or the collaborative approach is successful, the divorce can be finalized with the court, often without appearing before a judge. In a contested divorce, however, there is a trial in front of a judge where witnesses can be subpoenaed to testify and exhibits offered into evidence if the parties are unable to reach a negotiated agreement after discovery has been completed. The judge will then make decisions on all issues.
For more information on how to get a divorce in Kansas City, Liberty, or Overland Park, contact a Collaborative Practice professional at 913-380-2560 or click here.