Divorce is a complicated process that can take months to finalize. Once you file for divorce, there are often waiting periods before any further action is taken. Many people wonder what happens after the initial filing period ends – specifically, what their next steps should be.
If you’re in this situation, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your options. The decisions you make at this stage can significantly impact the rest of the divorce process. So, whether you’re choosing to represent yourself or hire an attorney, it’s crucial to be informed about what comes next.
“The most common challenge faced by those who’ve filed for divorce is uncertainty about what lies ahead.” – Forbes
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what happens after 60 days of filing for divorce. From legal requirements to taking care of your emotional well-being, we’ll cover all the bases and get you ready to move forward with confidence.
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or just curious about what comes next, keep reading to discover your next steps after filing for divorce.
Meeting With Your Lawyer
Preparing for Your Initial Consultation
If you have filed for divorce and it has been over 60 days, now is the right time to meet with your lawyer. It might seem overwhelming to face legal procedures at such a difficult stage, but having a good divorce attorney who can provide legal guidance and support is crucial. Here’s how you can prepare yourself prior to meeting with your lawyer:
- Make a list of questions that you want answered during the consultation.
- Gather all necessary documents regarding your marriage, including prenuptial agreements, financial records, and any previous court orders.
- Prepare a summary about why you are seeking a divorce. Be specific and clear about your reasons for filing.
- Create a timeline which outlines important events in your life like when you were married, if children were born into the marriage, and when other significant changes occurred.
- Consider taking notes or recording the conversation once you speak with your lawyer; this will help ensure nothing gets missed.
Remember that your initial consultation is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the divorce process. The more prepared you are, the better positioned you’ll be to achieve a successful outcome.
What to Expect During Your First Meeting
Your first meeting with your lawyer may take up to an hour or longer depending on the complexity of your case. During this time, your attorney will review your information and listen to your concerns carefully before offering their recommendations. They will also explain the divorce process, including what you can legally expect and the steps you need to take moving forward.
In general, here is what you can expect during your first meeting with your divorce lawyer:
- Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and obligations to finalize the divorce.
- Your attorney will evaluate your case and provide you with a realistic assessment of how likely it is that you’ll achieve the desired outcome.
- You should also expect questions from your lawyer regarding your expectations for child custody and support, division of assets, spousal maintenance, and other related issues.
- If needed, your attorney may suggest alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation or negotiation to lessen contentiousness and reduce costs.
Overall, your initial consultation with your divorce lawyer is an excellent time to learn about the legal process ahead of you.
Questions to Ask Your Divorce Lawyer
To facilitate effective communication during your first meeting with your divorce lawyer, here are some significant questions you can ask:
- What kind of experience do you have handling cases similar to mine?
- How many divorces have you handled in the past year?
- Do you recommend litigation over settlement for my case?
- What are your fees? How do you bill clients?
- How long does the typical divorce process take?
- What happens if I disagree with something on our final agreement? Is there room for renegotiation or amendment at a later stage?
“The key advice is to be open, honest and accurate with your attorney so they can represent you adequately.” -Arlene Dubin
Asking these questions and others ensures that both parties are clear about how to proceed right from the beginning and helps establish a solid foundation for your case.
Mediation and Negotiation
After filing for divorce, there are typically several steps that follow. One of the most important is negotiating a settlement agreement. While many people assume they will need to go to court to resolve their divorce, mediation and negotiation can be powerful alternatives. These methods offer numerous benefits for both parties involved in the divorce.
The Benefits of Mediation in Divorce
Mediation is often used as an effective way to negotiate a fair settlement without going to court. During the mediation process, both parties sit down with a mediator who acts as a neutral third party. They work together to reach a mutually acceptable solution regarding assets, finances, and other issues related to the divorce.
One major benefit of mediation is flexibility. Parties can take more time to address specific concerns and interests, allowing for creative solutions that may not have been possible through a court proceeding. This also means that the parties retain more control over the outcome than they would if relying solely on judicial decision-making.
In addition, mediation tends to be less expensive than litigation because it requires fewer court appearances and less preparation time. Because of these cost savings, mediation is especially beneficial for couples with limited financial resources.
Finally, mediation allows parties to maintain respectful communication throughout the divorce proceedings. Even when discussions become heated or disputes arise, mediators can help parties refocus on finding common ground and reaching acceptable solutions.
Negotiating a Fair Divorce Settlement
If mediation is unsuccessful or inappropriate for your situation, negotiation could be another option. In this scenario, each spouse works with their own attorney to try and reach an agreement outside of court.
Just like in mediation, negotiation offers benefits such as flexibility and lower costs. It also gives each party the chance to express their needs and concerns directly to their spouse or their attorney. This direct communication can help prioritize specific issues for discussion, leading to a more efficient resolution.
Of course, negotiation can also have downsides. Without a neutral third party present, negotiations could get bogged down by power imbalances or potentially contentious disagreements. And because each spouse has their own lawyer, costs can add up if discussions become prolonged or contentious.
Collaborative Law: A Team Approach to Divorce
In some cases, couples may find collaborative law to be the best approach for resolving disputes related to divorce. Collaborative law is an alternative dispute resolution method in which both parties work with a team of professionals – including lawyers, financial advisors, mental health experts, and other advisors- to reach agreements outside of court.
This team-based strategy is often particularly beneficial when high-value assets, complex legal issues and/or sensitive matters such as child custody are involved. Each participant brings their individual expertise to bear in developing creative solutions that meet everyone’s needs, rather than relying on non-specialists in the traditional litigation process.
Useful long-term relationships therefore fostered, transparency encouraged and generate supportive solution-making environment via this procedure. In contrast to arbitration and mediation, If either party later chooses to pursue formal litigation, neither attorney participated at any level during the initial proceedings. Critics say the involvement of multiple parties leads to longer and more complicated divorces.
Arbitration as an Alternative to Court
In some states, arbitration is allowed as a way to resolve certain aspects of a divorce case without going to trial. Essentially, arbitration is a private version of a courtroom hearing where each person presents their arguments before a neutral arbitrator who decides the outcome.
The main advantage of arbitration is its flexibility: decisions on whether they wish to have a hearing, the location and time of the hearings all can be decided upon between the arbitrator and the parties involved. This means that it’s often quicker than going through traditional court process.
Arbitration is not without its downsides. Its private nature means there’s no public record of proceedings, limiting transparency and accountability. And while arbitrators are legally-binding to announce their decision- couples don’t get access to the same level of appeal rights.
“We find this approach particularly effective in high net asset divorce cases where using an expert third party who has experience dealing with complex matters may lead to better decisions for both sides,” said Severine Naudot from New York-based law firm Anker Law Group
No matter which alternative you choose to go down, simple steps towards reducing potential adversarial strife include employing calm communication methods – whether face-to-face or written–and looking to reach consensus on minor issues independently before lawyer involvement is considered. Maximising dialogue like most interactive contexts might tend towards safeguarding relationships outwith those specific to the marriage–critical when children are involved.
Court Hearings and Trials
After filing for divorce, one of the next steps is attending court hearings and potentially going through a trial. These can be stressful experiences, but being prepared and understanding the process can make it less intimidating.
Preparing for Your Day in Court
The first step to preparing for a day in court is to make sure you have all necessary documents on-hand. This may include proof of income, documentation of assets, and any previous legal agreements related to your marriage or separation. It’s also important to dress appropriately and arrive on time.
During the hearing, it’s essential to remain calm and polite when speaking with the judge. Avoid interrupting others and maintain a respectful tone throughout the proceedings. If possible, bring a lawyer to represent your case as well.
The Divorce Trial Process: What to Expect
If mediation or settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the divorce case may go to trial. This process will involve presenting evidence and arguments before a judge, who will ultimately decide the outcome of the case.
Prior to the trial, both parties will need to gather evidence to support their claims. During the actual trial, each side will present their case and call witnesses if needed. The judge will then make a decision based on the evidence presented.
It’s important to note that the length of a divorce trial can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issues involved. Additionally, neither party is guaranteed to receive an outcome they’re fully satisfied with.
Appealing a Divorce Court Decision
If one or both parties are dissatisfied with the outcome of a divorce trial, they may choose to file an appeal. This process involves requesting a higher court review the case and potentially overturn the ruling made by the original judge.
Appealing a divorce court decision can be difficult. A higher court will typically only review cases where a legal error was made during the trial process. This means that simply disagreeing with the ruling isn’t enough to successfully appeal a case.
“It’s important to consider consulting with an attorney before making the decision to file an appeal,” says family law attorney Sarah Johnson. “They can help you understand whether or not your case meets the criteria for an appeal and what the likelihood of success may be.”
Asset and Debt Division
Divorce is not only emotionally draining but financially challenging too. One of the toughest aspects of divorce is dividing your assets and debts with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
After the 60-day waiting period, the division of property begins by identifying all shared marital assets and liabilities. The first step in this process is to classify each asset and debt as either separate or marital property. Separate property typically includes items that were acquired before marriage or through inheritance or gifts, while marital property includes everything acquired during the marriage.
The next step is to establish the value of each asset and determine how the entire estate will be divided between spouses fairly. As Pennsylvania follows equitable distribution laws, the goal is not necessarily to split the assets equally but equitably. In other words, a fair and just outcome based on a range of factors like income levels, future needs, child custody arrangements, etc.
Equitable Division of Marital Property
Under Pennsylvania law, there are several factors that judges consider when distributing marital property. These include:
- The length of time the couple has been married
- Each party’s income and future earning potential
- Age and health status of both parties
- Different types of contributions made during marriage such as homemaking or career building
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Marital misconduct, addiction or abuse leading up to the divorce
Judges have vast discretion in determining which factor carries the most weight when making decisions about who gets what. It’s common for divorcing couples to disagree about these matters, requiring a judge’s intervention in contested cases. This could mean presenting evidence at a hearing or trial to demonstrate why one spouse should receive more than the other.
Dividing Retirement and Investment Accounts in Divorce
In high-net-worth divorces, asset division can get even more complicated. This is especially true for retirement and investment accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. These are considered part of marital property if earned during the marriage.
The issue with dividing these assets is that there can be hefty fees and penalties for early withdrawals. Pension plans usually require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to divide it between spouses without any tax or penalty consequences.
“Retirement plans and other employee benefit plans play an ever-increasing role in family law cases either when couples divorce or as domestic partners separate.” -Robert Flentje
This is why it’s essential to have competent legal counsel to guide you through this process. In addition to QDROs, judges may also order spousal support payments from one partner’s retirement account if they are decided to be entitled to such.
Negotiating property division successfully requires expertise in understanding financial intricacies and experience working on behalf of clients’ equitable distribution needs.
Child Custody and Support
Filing for divorce can be an emotionally trying experience, particularly if there are children involved. Child custody and support issues can add stress to the already complicated process of ending a marriage. Understanding your legal rights and options during this difficult time is essential.
Understanding Child Custody Laws
In California, child custody laws are designed to encourage parents to share joint legal and physical custody whenever possible. However, if it is not in the best interest of the child to have shared custody, the court may award sole custody to one parent.
The courts consider several factors when determining child custody arrangements, including:
- The age and health of the child;
- The emotional ties between each parent and the child;
- The ability of each parent to provide care for the child;
- The child’s preference (if he or she is old enough to express one);
- The stability of each parent’s home environment; and
- The level of cooperation between the parents in raising the child.
If you are struggling with child custody issues, it’s vital to have an experienced family law attorney who understands these complex laws.
Determining Child Support Payments
Like child custody, child support is typically determined based on what is in the best interests of the child. In California, child support is calculated using guidelines that take into account both parents’ income, number of children, and other relevant financial information.
To determine how much child support to order, the court will consider factors such as:
- The financial needs of the child;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the parents remained married;
- The income and earning potential of each parent;
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent; and
- Any special needs or circumstances of the child, such as medical or educational expenses.
If you are having trouble obtaining child support payments from your ex-spouse, there are legal avenues available to help enforce the order.
Enforcing Child Custody and Support Orders
If your ex-spouse is not complying with court-ordered child custody or support arrangements, you have several legal options. Your attorney may be able to seek enforcement through the court system, including filing a motion for contempt.
The consequences for violating a child custody order can be severe and may result in fines, jail time, or even loss of custody rights. Similarly, your lawyer can also pursue aggressive action against an ex-spouse who fails to make required child support payments.
Modifying Child Custody and Support Orders
Even once child custody and support orders have been set, it’s possible that changes may need to be made due to changing family dynamics. For example, if one parent moves out of state or experiences a significant change in income, it might be necessary to modify the existing arrangement.
To modify either child custody or support orders, you will need to file a motion with the court outlining the reasons why the modification is requested. If both parents agree to the changes, they may be approved more quickly than if disputes arise.
“Children are our most valuable resource.” -Herbert Hoover
Remember that during this difficult time, the best interests of your children always come first. With effective representation by an experienced family law attorney, you can better navigate the complex landscape of child custody and support issues that often accompany divorce proceedings. Take the time to understand your legal options and feel confident that you are making informed decisions for your children’s future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens to the marital home after 60 days of filing for divorce?
After 60 days of filing for divorce, the marital home is usually sold and the proceeds are divided between the spouses. However, if one spouse wishes to keep the home, they may buy out the other spouse’s share. If there are children involved, the custodial parent may be allowed to remain in the home until the children reach a certain age, after which the home will be sold and proceeds divided as previously mentioned.
What is the timeline for finalizing a divorce after 60 days of filing?
The timeline for finalizing a divorce after 60 days of filing varies by state. Some states require a waiting period before a divorce can be finalized, while others do not. In general, an uncontested divorce can be finalized within a few months, while a contested divorce can take several months to several years, depending on the complexity of the case.
What is the process for determining child custody after 60 days of filing for divorce?
After 60 days of filing for divorce, the court will typically schedule a hearing to determine child custody. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making a custody determination. Factors such as the child’s age, health, and relationships with each parent will be taken into account. The court may also order a custody evaluation or appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests.
After 60 days of filing for divorce, joint bank accounts and shared assets will be divided between the spouses according to the laws of the state in which the divorce takes place. In some states, assets are divided equally, while in others, they are divided based on the contributions each spouse made to the marriage. It is important to note that debts are also divided in a divorce, so both spouses may be responsible for paying off joint debts.
What are the legal requirements for spousal support after 60 days of filing for divorce?
The legal requirements for spousal support, also known as alimony, vary by state. In general, spousal support may be awarded if one spouse has a financial need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. The amount and duration of spousal support will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and each spouse’s earning capacity.
What happens if one spouse contests the divorce after 60 days of filing?
If one spouse contests the divorce after 60 days of filing, the case will proceed to trial. The court will hear evidence from both spouses and make a determination on issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support. It is important to note that contesting a divorce can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is usually best to try to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation before going to trial.