What happens next depends on whether or not your partner responds to your application.
In general, if you're applying for only a divorce, the process takes about 4 to 6 months. If you're applying for a divorce and other claims, it's hard to say how long it takes to get your order.
Partner doesn't respond
If your partner doesn't respond within 30 days, you have to file with the court:
- Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce, where you include information about you and your partner, your children, and any arrangements made after separating about custody, access, child support, spousal support, and dividing property. This form must be sworn or affirmed. This means you promise that the information in the document is true. You can be charged for committing a crime if you do not tell the truth when you swear or affirm your form.
- Form 25A: Divorce Order, where you write the orders you want the court to make.
- Original marriage certificate.
If you can't get a copy of your marriage certificate, you need to explain why you couldn't get it in your Form 36: Affidavit for Divorce.
A judge reviews your documents to make sure everything is complete and you meet the conditions to get a divorce. Steps 1-4 in Do I have to get a divorce? explains what these conditions are.
This is sometimes called an "Uncontested Divorce".
Usually, you don't have to go to court or meet with a judge. But, if the judge has questions for you, the court clerk contacts you with a court date or gives you a copy of the judge's endorsement that tells you what you have to do.
If the judge doesn't have any questions, you get a divorce order. The court clerk can mail you a certified copy of the signed order in the stamped envelopes you gave or call you to pick it up.
The divorce order has a date when it takes effect. This is usually 31 days after the date of the divorce order. This is the date when you will be legally divorced.
If your partner responds, they fill out Form 10: Answer and serve you. This means they give you a copy of their Form 10: Answer and any other documents they need to file. For example:
If your partner doesn't agree with your claim for a divorce, the process becomes more complicated. Your partner might also add new claims of their own or ask for things like support or access. This is sometimes called an "Contested Divorce".
Sometimes, partners can agree to get a divorce before they resolve their other issues. This is called "severing" the divorce from the other issues. But, the court might not give you a divorce if there is no child support or other support arrangements made for the children.
This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case. Going to court can be a complicated process and it can take a lot of time. It can be stressful and expensive, but it is sometimes necessary to decide your issues.
You can talk to a lawyer who can help you with the court process. If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers will provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.