How to File for Divorce: Step by step guide in leaving a toxic marriage

For some people, the rigours experienced during marriage dissolution exceed the emotional drainage or the psychological stress attached to annulling a commitment once decided upon and engaged. 

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There is oftentimes the worry of how to file for divorce; the procedures, processes and requirements of ensuring a legal separation between marital partners. Divorce is definitely not encouraged as it should always come as the last resort in every marital union in proposing reconciliation or resolution for whatsoever disagreement or differences that might exist.

However, when the prospect for divorce becomes inevitable and has been reasonably agreed and decided upon by both parties/ partners, it becomes expedient to understand appropriate legal measures on how to file for divorce.

Step by step processes on how to file for divorce?

This guide below will direct you on how to file for divorce with the steps involved.

Firstly, you have to confirm your eligibility for divorce. Questions need to be answered such as whether both spouses are legally married in the first place, i.e., do you and your partner have a marriage license/ certificate from a marriage registry? Are there legal reasons or ground for the divorce? For example in Nigeria, the stipulated legal grounds to dissolve a marriage include adultery, criminal acts, drunkenness, domestic violence etc.

On the other hand, it is necessary that you at this time consult the services of a lawyer to represent you in petitioning for divorce in the court, as well as offer peculiar details through the process of completing your divorce petitions.

Statutory information to be inquired by your state’s attorney and which would invariably be requested in court should be amply considered such as the term (or years) of marriage, are their children (and minors) within the union, are there significant joint property or investments between both partners, does marital debt exist?

It is relevant that these questions be answered and agreement reached by both spouse on issues regarding child custody, child support, debt payment and allocation, property division, and spousal support (for example, in a situation where only one of the spouse works and support the family financially while the other is a stay-at-home parent who takes up the domestic responsibility of taking care of the house and the children). This information is to be contained in the divorce petition.

At this stage, the petitioner (the spouse who files the divorce petition), with the help of his/ her lawyer is expected to forward the file before the family court system which after being affirmed is sent to the other partner ( the respondent) to reply the content of the petition. Depending on the willingness of the other spouse to agree or assent to the divorce, the divorce filing process might take a long time before the court is able to adjudicate an open court session which according to “the specific rules vary from state to state”.

Following the acknowledgement of the respondent in regards to the divorce, few paper works are left to be carried out part of which highlights the terms of the divorce which both parties need to agree upon. Once the court enters the judgment, the divorce is final. However, according to, “the marriage is not formally dissolved and the spouses cannot remarry until the end of the state’s waiting period. If there are issues that cannot be resolved, court hearings and maybe even a trial will be required”.     

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