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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

Domestic violence was a part of my family's life for years. When I made the decision to leave with my children, I had to rely on the law to provide the protection we needed. Sometimes, the system does not work as fast as we want. I soon learned that going at it alone without any guidance caused significant delays. I created this blog to help others who are seeking legal means to deal with an abusive ex. By making the right moves, it is possible to get the necessary protections in place so that you can also live a happier and healthier life.


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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

Petitioning To Be Divorced

by Gina Hill

Whoever files first for divorce should be prepared to take some legal steps. Once you speak to an attorney and make the decision to file, a process is set in motion. This can be a terrifying and liberating time, but it might be helpful to find out what filing for divorce really means. Read on for more information about how the process works.

What Is a Petition?

This important divorce document is known by a variety of names, such as a prayer for relief, complaint, petition, and others. It contains everything that is needed to let the other party not only know that you are asking the court to grant a divorce but also what the petitioner is asking for in the divorce. If there are to be grounds for the divorce, they are brought forth there, and any children of the relationship under the age of 18 are mentioned.

Serving the Petition

While the law can vary, in many cases, you have to show proof of service with divorce papers. You can use a service processor, who locates and personally hands your spouse the paperwork. Using a service can help prevent problems with an uncooperative spouse since you will have proof that they were legally served. For example, an uncooperative spouse might object to the divorce if they can show that they never had a chance to respond to it.

Petition Provisions

Unless you've caught your spouse off-guard, the most interesting parts of the petition are the provisions dealing with important matters like:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Joint debts
  • Joint property

Additionally, some or all of the above can be dealt with during the separation period using temporary orders.

The Answer

In most cases, your spouse needs to pay heed to the time limit for responding to the petition. Divorce is not a one-way street, and they must respond by showing their agreement or disagreement with any provision. For example, your spouse might agree to the child custody arrangements but disagree with who gets to keep the family home. To do so, they would speak with their own divorce lawyer about submitting an answer to the petition. Disagreed-on issues must be resolved using divorce mediation techniques or negotiations between the two parties via their lawyers. If none of those things work, you will have to let the judge decide. This is to be avoided since it costs more and takes more time.

Speak to a divorce law attorney about the importance of being the first to file and what a fair divorce looks like in your state.