As a local Judge likes to say during First Appearances in a divorce matter, “You are all likely going through the worst time period of your lives. We’re here to try to figure out how you move on, and what you need to do to make that process easier.” It’s true, divorce means a marriage is ending, and that is a difficult process to be involved in. Yet, as statistics show, Divorce has become much more commonplace and living in a divorced home has seemingly become more of the norm.
However, the process is still draining, and most people don’t know what to expect from the divorce process. In a divorce, one of the married persons files a Petition for Divorce, and in a typical case, the other party files a Cross-Petition and Answer. The parties seek decisions on parenting, division of assets, division of debts, child support, alimony, and other issues. Yet, when you first become involved it can be a very intimidating prospect.
Thus, it is a good idea to identify a few important documents that you will need to understand in order to maintain sanity through the divorce process. The first, and most important, is the parenting plan. When it becomes final, this document will govern the parenting schedule for each parent, including holiday and vacation plans. This document also talks about the importance of co-parenting, which is something a lot of Courts focus on. In fact, in New Hampshire, all parties to a parenting petition or divorce with children are required to attend a child impact seminar. This seminar discusses the perils to your children if co-parenting fails, and provides parties with the understanding to grow as co-parents.
The second document that is most well known is the Decree, or Stipulation, or Agreement, and it is this document that governs the division of the “stuff” as we like to say. This document will dictate who gets what, and who pays what debts. This document generally covers all property division, in addition to other tangential issues.
The third document that is most well known is the Uniform Support Order, or USO for short. The USO uses State-mandated calculations (a/k/a – “Child Support Guidelines”) to determine the child support awarded in each case. It also dictates insurance coverage issues for the children, as well as the frequency of payment of support.