The first part of the process that happens is the filing of the petition for divorce. There’s going to be a bunch of accompanying documents that go with the petition for divorce, there’s going to be the financial statement, there’s going to be a parenting plan if kids are involved, a civil case information sheet, a summons and also a BCSE form as well as a vital statistics form. These are the basic forms that are going to be included with the petition along with the petition for divorce.
After the person receives it by proper service, what’s going to happen then is that person has 20 days to file an answer and accompanying documents, generally. There’s ways around it, but generally it has to be within 20 days of receipt. Now, that means the person is either going to be handed the document, or they’re going to sign for it in certified mail, return receipt requested. That’s going to be the way that service is provided. If they cannot be found, we’re going to have a service by publication.
The step after that is, once they’ve filed their answer, a court date is going to be set. That’s typically for a temporary hearing. At the temporary hearing, it’s self explanatory. Things are set on a temporary basis. You’ll get to make your case about what should happen on a temporary basis, the other side will make their case about what should happen on a temporary basis. The judge in his or her discretion could convert the hearing into a final hearing, or, alternatively, if there’s an agreement on everything, this could be treated as a final hearing. There are certain things that have to be stated on the record before a divorce can be filed. You have to have a date of separation and you have to have the date of the marriage. There has to be established grounds for divorce as well. We’ve gone over that in other articles before.
The most common established grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences. At that point, the court usually hears testimony about that at the first hearing, but sometimes they don’t. That’s what’s going to happen up through the temporary hearing. By the way, the rules of evidence typically don’t apply at that hearing, it’s just you or your attorney proffering what you think should happen. At the conclusion of that hearing, generally what happens is a hearing date is set for probably a couple of months down the road. That’s an overall summary of the divorce process up through at least the temporary hearing. What we’re going to be going over tomorrow is the divorce process going forward.