A complaint starts the divorce
If you have decided that your marriage has come to an end but you’re not quite sure how to go forward with divorce, this article can help you understand the basics process that you can expect when filing for divorce.
Every divorce starts with a complaint and a filing fee of $150.00 for a divorce with no children and $230.00 for a divorce with children. The complaint states where the parties reside, when and where the parties were married, whether they are separated, whether property was acquired during the marriage, a statement that the “objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there is no reasonably likelihood the marriage can be preserved” and so on. If there are minor children, they are named as is their residence.
At the end of the complaint is a “Wherefore” clause which states what you want. Besides the obvious, (asking for a divorce), the wherefore clause could also ask for custody, alimony, attorney fees, rights to a pension, or anything else. Often there is a request that property be equitably divided. Asking that property be equitably divided is not the same as asking that property be equally divided. An equal division of property would require the value of the property be totaled and divided by two. An equitable division of property is asking for what is fair under the circumstances. If your spouse cheated on you, or makes a great deal more money than you, or has received a substantial inheritance, you could make an argument that you deserve more than one half of the property acquired during the marriage. So asking for an equitable division is another way of asking for everything you are entitled to. Once the complaint is drafted and signed, it is filed and the other party is served a copy along with a summons.
That’s it. That is how a divorce case starts. You neither win nor lose a case at this stage. The complaint, which is a public record, merely announces your intention to dissolve the marriage. The only question is who gets what. That is at the heart of the matter and that is why you need a lawyer you can trust if things get complicated. If you have nothing to fight over, or have worked out all of your issues ahead of time. The divorce process should be simple and smooth. If you have a lot to fight about, you could be in for a complicated legal battle. Either way, everything starts with filing a divorce complaint.