Quickie Divorce: Everything You Need to Save Time, Money and Get it Done Fast and Legally

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9781572486065: Quickie Divorce: Everything You Need to Save Time, Money and Get it Done Fast and Legally
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A divorce does not have to be a sticky situation. If you and are spouse are in agreement, there are many ways in which, by working together, you can shave months off of getting the divorce finalized. Quickie Divorce shows you what you can accomplish by working together and how everyone benefits.

But there are times when things are a little messier and all you want to do is get out now. Depending on your situation and where you live, with a little ingenuity, you can speed up the process, and Quickie Divorce can show you how.

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About the Author:

Linda H. Connell received her law degree from Notre Dame Law School. She has served as an arbitrator for the Circuit Court in DuPage County, Illinois. Ms. Connell is licensed to practice law in Nevada, Colorado, and Illinois. She currently lives in the Chicago area.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

What You Need to Know about Getting a Divorce

Excerpted from Quickie Divorce by Linda Connell ©2007

Let's start off right by saying that a true quickie divorce is the exception rather than the rule. Given that, we will take you briefly through the steps involved with obtaining a divorce, and wherever possible, will suggest ways to shorten the time involved in completing each step. If a topic requires more in-depth discussion, it will be taken up in a later chapter.

Preparation for the Case
The steps you must consider as a party to a divorce case may be different depending on whether you are the petitioner or the respondent. The petitioner is the person who initially files the lawsuit asking for a divorce; the respondent is the other spouse who must answer the lawsuit.

In some cases, the petitioner can be at an advantage because he or she can prepare and file the action without the other person even knowing about it until he or she receives formal notice that the action has been filed. In such a case, the respondent may have to scramble to put together information that will be necessary to file a response to the lawsuit. It is important, however, to be as thorough as possible in collecting information, so that the attorney has a clear picture of what is at stake.

Whether you are the petitioner or the respondent, you will need to put together relevant information in order to prepare your case. If you do not have a certain document, try to recreate the information to the best of your ability. For example, if you cannot locate your tax returns for the last several years, you may be able to obtain copies of your recent W-2 forms from your employer, which you then may use to reconstruct the returns.

What follows is a checklist of the information that you should be prepared to bring to your attorney in order to prepare pleadings in support of your case. Some of the items in the list may not be pertinent to your case; however, it is better to have too much information for your lawyer than too little.

Information Checklist
For each spouse, try to gather as much of the following information as you can:

· personal information, including:
· full name
· birth date
· birth certificate
· marriage certificate
· Social Security number
· copy of driver's license
· highest education level attained
· occupation
· name and address of employer
· date and place of marriage
· names and birth dates of children
· length of residence in state
· information about prior marriages and children
· date of separation
· grounds for divorce
· paycheck stubs for the past 6–12 months, for both spouses, if possible
· tax returns, including W-2s, 1099s, and all attachments for the last three years
· statements for all checking, savings, or other financial institution accounts for the last six months, including account numbers
· all life insurance policies owned by either spouse, including the insurance company, policy number, policyholder, annual premium, and amount of the benefit
· statement and/or plan description of any of the following in which either spouse has an interest:
· profit-sharing
· pension
· Keogh
· credit union accounts
· certificates of deposit
· brokerage accounts
· annuities
· retirement plans
· individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
· deferred compensation
· stock options
· health or dental insurance policies or other health plan to which either spouse belongs
· any other insurance policy held by either spouse, including but not limited to disability or homeowner's insurance
· documentation relating to any safe deposit boxes held by either spouse
· stocks or bonds owned by either spouse, including purchase date and purchase price
· net worth or other financial statements created in the past 3–5 years for the purpose of obtaining a loan
· prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
· if applicable, information regarding prior marriage(s), including length of the marriage, children born of the marriage, and termination of the marriage
· wills or trusts prepared for or on behalf of either spouse
· wills or trusts in which either spouse is a beneficiary
· any inheritance or future interest in which either spouse has an interest
· birth certificate and Social Security cards for each child
· school records for each child
· college costs for children, including:
· tuition
· room and board
· books
· fees
· transportation
· any assets belonging to children
· work-related child care expenses for all children
· religious upbringing for children-past and future
· any written agreement relating to spousal or child support, custody, or marital property
· deed, address, tax number, and legal description of any real property owned by either spouse
· mortgage documents, tax assessments, or tax bills for real property owned by either spouse
· any real estate appraisal for real property for the last 3–5 years
· for any business interests owned by either spouse, if applicable, partnership agreements or corporation articles of incorporation, along with partnership or corporate tax returns for the last 3–5 years, along with all attachments and schedules
· for any business interests owned by either spouse, any accounts receivable ledgers or profit and loss statements for the past 3–5 years
· inventory of personal property belonging to either spouse separately or both spouses jointly, including approximate value and who owns each
· inventory of debts belonging to either spouse separately or both spouses jointly, including date debt was incurred, amount of current debt, and name and address of creditor for each debt

All of this information can help you and your attorney plan the strategy for your case. It also will make it easier to prepare the necessary pleadings and affidavits to proceed with the action.

Petition and Initial Documents
The first pleading you will need to draft is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is the document that, when filed with the clerk of the court in your county, starts the divorce case. It formally asks the court to end your marriage. In the petition, you will have to plead all of the facts required by your state's law in order to entitle you to the outcome you are seeking. At the very least in most states, you will have to set out when and where you were married, how long you have resided in the state, information about your children, and the facts that provide you with grounds for asking for a divorce. Residency requirements and grounds for divorce are discussed later.

Many states require various other documents to be filed at the same time as the petition. Typically, if there are children involved, courts require an affidavit to be filed that meets the requirements of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The UCCJEA is a law in most states that makes it easier for one state to enforce a child custody order when one of the parents takes a child out of state when he or she is not supposed to. In a few states where the UCCJEA has not yet been enacted, its predecessor, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act governs, although the affidavit requirement is similar for both acts. Through the affidavit, the petitioner swears under oath that the state where the case is filed is the proper jurisdiction.

Another document that courts routinely require to be filed with the petition is a financial affidavit. This is a sworn and notarized document that lists the parties' assets and liabilities, and helps the court make decisions about marital property and spousal support.

When one spouse files an action in court for dissolution of marriage, the other spouse must receive notice of the proceeding and an opportunity to be heard in the matter. Therefore, in addition to the petition, it is necessary to prepare a document called a summons, which is a notice of the pending action.

When your documents have all been prepared, the next step is filing them with the proper court. You already should have determined which court has jurisdiction before you drafted your pleadings. Jurisdiction refers to which court is allowed to hear a particular case. Each state has its own requirements for the exercise of jurisdiction over family law matters. In general, at least one of the parties must have lived within the state for a certain amount of time right before the filing of the petition in order for the state's courts to have jurisdiction over the case. This is called a residency requirement.

In addition to jurisdiction, you should also think about venue, which is the location of the proper court in which to file a petition. In a state court action like a divorce, venue usually is appropriate in the trial court of the county in which one of the parties lives. In some states, it is the county in which the petitioner lives; in others, the petition must be filed in the county in which the respondent lives. In some states, either county is appropriate. Appendix B provides state-by-state information about where venue is proper.

To file a petition, response, or other pleading, bring the original document to the courthouse. It is a good idea to bring an extra copy as well, for your own records. Filed documents usually are given a date stamp by the clerk. Ask him or her to file stamp your copy as well.

Usually there is a filing fee for certain documents filed with the court clerk. The fee is different in each county. Often the fee will include a charge for having the county sheriff serve copies of the summons and petition upon the other spouse (see below). In some cases, an indigent petitioner can ask the court to waive filing fees, if he or she can show in an affidavit why he or she cannot afford ...

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Linda Connel
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