Joint Petition for Divorce
If you and your spouse are able to reach settlement before filing with the Court, you can use the abbreviated method of a Joint Petition for Divorce. With a so-called “1-A” divorce, the parties file their written divorce settlement agreement (called a “Separation Agreement”) along with a Joint Petition for Divorce and receive a trial date in approximately 3-4 weeks. Unlike a contested divorce trial, the 1-A hearing generally lasts only about 15 minutes. The Judge will review the Separation Agreement, make sure that the parties read it, had the opportunity to review it with independent counsel, understood its terms and signed it freely and voluntarily. The Judge will satisfy herself that the Separation Agreement provides adequately for the children. If the Judge approves the Separation Agreement, 30 days later, you will receive in the mail a Judgment of Divorce that will automatically become final 90 days after that.
The question, therefore, is how do you get an agreement without resorting to litigation. The next pages discuss litigation alternatives: coffee, mediation and collaborative process.