Going through a divorce can be hard. Most people don’t want to be in that situation. And most people have never experienced it before. The unknown of what is about to happen in a divorce often leads to stress and anxiety. In this two-part blog (see part-two) I try to reduce some of that stress and anxiety by answering some of the more common questions I receive at an initial consultation.
When reading through my answers to these common questions, please remember that family law matters are very fact-specific. While this blog is meant to provide you some general knowledge on each topic, please consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation.
What Are The Legal Grounds For Divorce?
Divorces in North Dakota can be granted for any of the following reasons: adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, abuse of alcohol or controlled substances, a conviction of a felony, or irreconcilable differences. The most common among these reasons is “irreconcilable differences.” The reason for this is likely that “fault” does not need to be proven at a trial when “irreconcilable differences” are alleged -unlike the other grounds for divorce. While you may be convinced that your husband cheated on you, proving that in the courtroom may be difficult. So, hypothetically speaking, if a person only alleges “adultery” in their request for a divorce, and the court does not believe “adultery” was sufficiently proven, that person may go through all of the painful steps of the divorce process and end up not getting divorced. Furthermore, alleging “irreconcilable differences” does not mean you are prevented from presenting evidence of “fault” at your divorce trial, as this is a factor for the court to consider when determining the property distribution and spousal support.
How Much Will My Divorce Cost?
It depends. If a couple agrees on how their assets and debts should be divided and where the kids should live, the process can be relatively cheap. On the other end of the spectrum is the divorce case in which the parties cannot agree on anything. When this takes place, motions, such as, motions to compel, motions for interim orders, motions for custody investigators, and motions for contempt or to enforce are common. These are not cheap. So, if keeping the cost of your divorce to a minimum is important to you, you should try your best to reach an agreement.
Do I Need An Attorney For My Divorce?
No, you don’t need an attorney to get a divorce. There are all sorts of forms available online for you to print off and fill out. Doing your divorce this way can save you money; however, doing a divorce yourself can also lead to issues that result in you paying more than you normally would with an attorney on board. This is because there is the chance you don’t fill things out correctly. And sometimes the Judge may refuse to accept your documents because of the errors they contain. In my experience fixing these errors is typically more expensive than it is to do the divorce action from scratch. As an added bonus of using an attorney, you also get to pick their brain on what is “normal” and whether or not the agreement is “fair” before it goes to a judge.
How Long Does It Take To Get Divorced?
Again, it depends. The quickest divorces are those in which the parties agree on everything. If our firm gets the specifics of the parties’ agreement on a Monday, we can typically have that agreement formalized and ready for their review by that Friday. And, once we have a signed agreement, we can typically have the closing documents to the court within a few days. All-in-all, if everything goes smoothly a person can be divorced in a couple weeks when they have an agreement. When people fight over things, however, the process can take much longer. When there is no agreement, the parties must attend a scheduling conference. At this conference, deadlines are set for discovery, motions, and mediation. A trial date is also obtained at this conference. Between the Judge’s and the lawyers’ schedules, it is not uncommon for the trial to be set out several months. If the matter goes to trial, you will also have to wait for the judge’s decision, which can take up to 90 days. When considering all of these things it is common for a case to take between 6 months and a year to conclude. In some extreme cases involving appeals, the case can take years to conclude.
Do We Have To To To Court?
In North Dakota the parties do not need to go to Court -if they agree on everything and sign a stipulation. Your lawyer will compile all the necessary paperwork, which typically includes around eight documents, and submit those to the court. As long as everything meets the judge’s approval, a hearing will not be held and you will not need to step foot in a courtroom.
Family law matters, especially divorces, can be emotional. You should contact an experienced family law attorney that can help you understand what is happening and what could happen during the process.
If you need assistance navigating any family law issues please contact us!