A: Technically no but there is an advantage to being the first to file, in my opinion. Whoever files first, gets the courthouse nearest your address or your attorney’s address (if you have one). Also, if there is a hearing, you get to put your evidence on first. That could be an advantage.
Q: What is a contested divorce?
A: A divorce where the parties are not in agreement for how to divide the property or share the children. That does not mean that all is lost, the parties can still go to mediation to help resolve the issues they cannot resolve on their own.
Q: Do I need a lawyer for a divorce?
A: No, but it might be helpful depending on your assets or the children. It is important to know the law and how to divide your property and how to share your children. There are still rules to follow about your parenting plan and child support and you might need help with that. The courts have a website to help parties who don’t have attorneys and are doing it on their own. I do not recommend that you go to a hearing without an attorney.
Q: How long does a divorce take?
A: There is a 60 day cooling off period for any divorce. There is a process called summary consent decree where you can file all your papers at once but the judge will not sign them for 60 days. If you file your petition and then the other party is served, you can work on solving all issues and the filing your final papers on the 60th day and you will be divorced when the judge signs them. If you do not settle all your issues right away and file your papers, your divorce can last up to 12 to 18 months. The court has deadlines to set once your file and you will have to follow the court calendar.
Q: What is a legal separation?
A: It is just like a divorce except you are still married. All your finances are settled, but you can still be the spouse in the event of a death. You can also stay on your partner’s health insurance. Once separated, each party is responsible for their own debts and they will have their own assets. And you can convert a separation into a divorce during the process. After your legal separation papers are filed with the court, you would have to file for a divorce if you want to convert it. You cannot have a re-do for the finances. Whatever you agreed to in the separation is carried over into the divorce litigation.
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