Stage 1 – Complaint
A complaint for divorce and other required documents are drafted and filed. These documents begin the process and result in a docket number being issued by the court. The complaint is then provided to your spouse with an acknowledgment of service, indicating they have received it. If they refuse to sign, service will be arranged either through the sheriff’s office or a private process server. Generally, an offer of settlement and proposed agreement will be made at this stage. Your spouse will then be required to file an answer to the complaint and, usually, a counterclaim for divorce.
If your spouse does not answer the complaint after 35 days, a Request to Enter Default is filed. If there is property or debts or custody, a Notice of Proposed Judgment (a document setting out what we believe the court should do) is filed and served on your spouse, outlining all the statutory factors and explaining our position as to each. A default hearing is then conducted (generally 30-45 days later) and a judgment issued.
If your spouse does file an answer and/or counterclaim, the matter will proceed to discovery.