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The divorce process can be a difficult and trying time in the lives of every person affected. For this reason, it is important for individuals to have a wealth of support from a variety of sources throughout the divorce process. This support can come from friends and loved ones. It may also come from mental health professionals who have experience helping people cope psychologically with the divorce process and its larger implications. Legal support during the divorce process is also crucial to protecting and maximizing your legal rights when your marriage is ending.
The divorce process is governed by specific state laws and the circumstances of the dissolving marriage. The divorce process will depend on whether or not the divorce is contested, if there are children involved in the dissolution of the marriage, and numerous other factors. The divorce process typically begins when one partner, the petitioner, files for a divorce with the appropriate family court. These papers will outline the grounds for divorce and the specific terms of the divorce sought by the petitioner.
Every state allows individuals to get a divorce on a no-fault basis. This means that through the divorce process, the petitioner does not need to prove fault in order to obtain a divorce. Some states do recognize more specific grounds for divorce such as: adultery, willful desertion, neglect or abuse, chemical dependency, incurable insanity, impotency, felony conviction, and more. The grounds for divorce in these cases will inevitably affect the divorce process in a much different way that no fault grounds.
After the petitioner has filed the divorce papers, they will be served to the other party, the respondent, who will have an opportunity to review the terms set forth in the document. In the next step of the divorce process, the respondent will have an opportunity to contest or agree to the provisions of the divorce. If the terms of the divorce are not contested and there are no children involved, the divorce process will be relatively simple as the court will typically choose to honor the agreement without further proceedings.
If the divorce is contested or there are children involved, the divorce process becomes a little more complicated. In these situations, the divorce process will involve decisions about the division of marital assets and debts, spousal support, and things of this nature.
When there are disputes over the terms of the divorce, the divorce process can involve mediation or a legal hearing. Mediation is an option in the divorce process whereby a neutral third party is hired or court-appointed to help facilitate negotiations between the spouses. In a legal hearing, a judge will hear the case and ultimately determine the terms of the divorce.
When children are involved the divorce process can also involve mediations and a court hearing. The divorcing parties have the right to work out a parenting plan on their own or with the help of a mediator. Regardless of how these arrangements are negotiated or disputed, a family law judge will always have the final say over child custody, visitation, and support and will always judge in favor of the children's best interests.
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Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.