What Follows the Complaint in a Divorce Case

ComplaintA divorce process can be long and difficult for both parties, or it can be relatively quick and painless if both spouses agree to a swift resolution. Understanding what happens after a divorce complaint is filed can help both parties come to a quicker resolution or better understand what to expect so that the process is as easy and painless as possible. Consider the steps that follow when someone files a complaint of divorce from their spouse.


Service of Process

The person who files for divorce needs to file proof of what is called service of process. This is proof that the divorce papers were served on the other party. Typically the attorney handles this for their client, and they will send a copy of this to him or her. If you’re handling your own divorce be sure you understand this step and have these papers filed with the court.

Emergency Orders

After a divorce petition is filed, emergency orders might be filed by one spouse. These are usually for support and custody of children, for example, a stay-at-home mother may file for an emergency support order so she has money coming in to pay household bills. She may also file for an emergency custody order so she can legally keep the children in the home until the divorce is finalized.


The spouse who did not file for divorce has a certain amount of time to file a response. This will typically set the scene for how the rest of the divorce proceeds. He or she may dispute the divorce filing and petition filed by the other party and the divorce then goes to court. However, if he or she does not dispute the arrangements set out for custody, alimony, property division, and so on, typically there is what’s called an order of dissolution drafted and then signed by the court and the divorce is finalized.

If there is no agreement between the two parties then the divorce goes to negotiation and then to trial and both parties argue their sides of the case. If the negotiations fail then there is a court date set and the parties argue their sides before a judge. Once the court determines the best way to resolve the issues between the couple, a judgment is issued and the order of dissolution is signed. The divorce is then finalized.