The divorce process is often littered with misconceptions. Before you discuss the end of your marriage with a divorce lawyer, you should learn a bit about these four aspects of getting a divorce.
1. It Is a Lawsuit
Getting a divorce is not just moving paperwork around; it's a lawsuit. One of the two partners in a marriage is petitioning the court to end it. In the vast majority of cases, the cited reason for suing to end the marriage is irreconcilable differences. This is an open-ended statement that can mean almost anything from one partner got bored to someone engaged in physical abuse. Although it might matter in related legal proceedings, a divorce court rarely cares how extreme or minor the reason is for ending a marriage.
2. A Divorce Lawyer Serves One Person
The job of a divorce lawyer requires the attorney to be what's called a zealous advocate. This means they must solely represent the interests of one person, and they must do so to maximally protect their rights. You can't share the same attorney with your spouse. Therefore, whether you or your partner wants a divorce, you need to work with a divorce lawyer.
3. Someone Has to Be Served Papers
Even if both sides agree to end the marriage, someone has to be the petitioner. The converse is also true in that someone has to be served papers for the divorce. Notably, nothing moves ahead until papers have been served. It is possible in odd cases where one partner appears to have fled that the petitioner can move forward, but that only happens after they've made a good-faith effort to find and serve the other party. If someone has a good reason why they can't receive the papers right away, the court will usually tolerate the delay. A good reason usually includes something like being out of the state on business or serving overseas in the military.
4. The Process Is Unstoppable
Unless the petitioner withdraws the suit, the marriage is going to end. To the extent that this may or may not happen quickly, it mostly depends on what the laws are in the state where the case was filed. Some states require cooling-off periods that can take months or even a couple of years. This is meant to give both sides a chance to pause and decide whether they want to end things. However, it's impossible to stop the process without the consent of the filing party.