Initial Consultation – This can be either over the phone or in person (though in person is preferable). At this meeting you will fill out a questionnaire and you will explain to the attorney what your case will be about and what you would like to ultimately finish your case with. You will also receive the documents that you will have to complete for your Discovery Phase (See #3).
If you are initiating the divorce, this is when the Petition and its accompanying documents will be drafted, filed and given to the process server for service.
If you are responding to an already filed Divorce, this is when the Answer to the Petition and Counter-Petition will be filed.
If you and your spouse have already come to an agreement, this is when your Settlement Agreement will be drafted and provided to you for your review and approval.
You and your spouse must exchange financial information (i.e. tax returns, paystubs, retirement account statements, bank statements, credit card statements, loan statements, etc.) and Financial Affidavits
If you and your spouse have already come to an agreement and a Settlement Agreement is being drafted this phase can be waived. However, you both will still need to complete Financial Affidavits. From this point onward you will skip ahead directly to #5 Final Hearing.
Mediation – After the exchange of Discovery is completed, Mediation will be coordinated. If the combined income between you and your spouse is less than $100,000.00 per year, every effort will be made to coordinate State Subsidized Mediation which is substantially cheaper than Private Mediation. Mediation is your chance to attempt settlement with your Spouse. Mediation is informal and NOT in front of the Judge. Though you are encouraged to make a good faith attempt to settle your issues, no one will force you into signing a settlement agreement.
If you and your spouse have come to an agreement and have signed a Settlement Agreement, the final step in the divorce process is Final Hearing. You will appear before the Judge, the Judge will ask a few simple questions, and your divorce will be complete.
If you and your spouse were unable to come to an agreement, the final step in the divorce is trial. Trial is extremely time consuming and very costly.