There are two primary factors which must first be determined prior to filing for a divorce which can be described as responsibility and resolution. Responsibility is effectively determined based on whose actions ultimately led to the dissolution of the marriage. Meanwhile, resolution is simply determined by whether or not you and your spouse can reach an agreement on how to resolve financial, custodial and property issues.
Determining Who is at Fault
The responsibility for the divorce can only be defined based on a narrow selection of issues, such as death, pending criminal charges, incarceration, infidelity, abuse or other circumstances determined by your county. If none of these situations apply to you then there is no fault involved, and a no-fault divorce can be filed. It's a good idea to speak with an attorney before moving forward in order to confirm whether or not your specific circumstances still qualify as no-fault grounds.
No-fault divorces essentially represent a situation where there is no legal grounds for termination of the marriage, but both parties have agreed that separation is desired. Nothing else need be decided on prior to filing in order for a no-fault divorce to proceed, but it is a good idea to at least attempt to reach agreements on some issues in order to save both time and money in the divorce. It is entirely possible to have a contested no-fault divorce, but not an uncontested at-fault divorce.
Contested Divorce Issues
Whether or not a divorce is contested is all down to how well you and your spouse can negotiate with one another, and reach mutually agreeable compromises. You'll need to resolve questions of property ownership, including vehicles, real estate, businesses and buildings. You will also need to address financial settlements, including alimony, child support, ownership of debt and distribution of the contents of any joint financial accounts. Child custody and visitation will also need to be resolved, but this is often an action separate from the divorce itself.
The more of these issues you and your spouse can agree on the less time and money you'll spend going to court over them. Many lawyers do offer mediation services to help couples reach agreements that work for both parties, but that's a separate set of fees you'll need to discuss. In some counties, an uncontested no-fault divorce may be allowed and processed the same day, but you'll still be required to go before a judge before it's officially filed.
The moral of all this is that it's in your best interest to reach mutually acceptable agreements on all marital issues before you begin the paperwork for a divorce. Use a lawyer to ensure you understand your rights, responsibilities and what will be expected by the courts, and bring a rational mind to all meetings with your spouse. To learn more, contact a law firm like McKissick & McKissick.