Most people struggle mightily with the decision to divorce but even when that decision has been made, there are a number of unknowns that can make it a scary proposition. For instance, how do you actually go about getting a divorce from a logistical standpoint? To make this a little clearer, let’s take a look at the way a “typical” divorce would proceed (“typical” is in quotes because the phrase “typical divorce” is an oxymoron).

First, one spouse will contact a lawyer and let them know they would like to get a divorce. The spouse and the lawyer will write up a petition, a legal document that outlines the reason for the divorce as well as the spouse’s desires for child custody, support and other subjects.

The attorney will file the petition with the court and either the lawyer or the court will ensure that the other spouse sees the paperwork. The other spouse typically has three weeks to respond. Then, the couple will share information with one another about their incomes and property, which will be used to decide matters of alimony, child support and property division.

If the couple can come to an agreement (together or through their lawyers), there’s no need to go to court. If not, a trial will commence, in which the attorneys will argue their client’s cases before the judge, who will issue a decision.

Divorce can be a long and complicated process but having an experienced family law attorney can make all the difference.