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Steps in filing for divorce

Some people in Virginia who are considering divorce may wonder what the actual steps are to filing. While every divorce is different, there are a few common denominators to all of them.

First, one person files for divorce, and then the other spouse receives the papers. This is called petition and summons. It is best to proceed with efficiency on any legal issues rather than delaying since a delay could hurt a person's case. The spouse who is served then must file a dissolution response. If a person has not yet consulted an attorney, this might be the time to do so. An attorney could be found through friends or online recommendations.

At this point, the two parties must disclose assets, income and debts. In more complicated financial situations, this could include business ownership or stock options. If the two are unable to negotiate, then a lawyer may be necessary even if a person has not had one up to that point. The couple will need to reach an agreement eventually whether that is through negotiation, mediation or litigation. The exact timing of when these agreements begin will vary depending on the specifics of the divorce.

For example, in some cases, there will be temporary orders in place for child custody, child support and spousal support. Those could change after the divorce is final. The couple may retain more control over the outcome if they are able to negotiate property division and other issues, but if one person is uncooperative, litigation might be the only option. Mediation or other alternative dispute resolution processes might help even couples who are experiencing a lot of conflict with reaching an agreement, and one advantage of this approach is that it is cooperative. The purpose of mediation is to reach an agreement that suits both people while litigation is more adversarial in nature.

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