Stages of Divorce

Separation and Divorce

With The Right Information, Divorce Doesn’t Have To Be Confusing

The process of divorce can be a highly emotional and difficult time in someone’s life. The end of a marriage can be one of the most traumatic experiences that someone can go through, with feelings of loss, grief, anger, and uncertainty often overwhelming individuals during this time.

One of the benefits of retaining the proper divorce attorney is that you are not just getting legal guidance but also support throughout the entire process. A good divorce attorney understands that their client is going through a tough time and will do everything in their power to help them navigate the process with as much ease as possible.

At times, a divorce attorney may serve as an informal therapist or counselor, listening to the client’s concerns, frustrations, and fears while providing them with guidance and reassurance. The right divorce attorney can also provide practical advice on the legal aspects of divorce, such as property division, child custody, and support payments.

It is crucial to remember that the divorce stages may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. Even so, we’ve tried to break down the process into 12 steps that are easy to follow and happen in most cases. These 12 steps do not happen in the same order for every case. For example, you can gather financial information before you have a consultation. You can decide to stay or go before gathering documents. The order of the steps is determined by each individual client and their specific circumstances. 

The 12 Steps You Can Expect in Divorce

Have a consultation:

The first stage of divorce involves seeking legal advice from an attorney whose only area of practice is family law, like those at Triangle Smart Divorce. This initial consultation typically provides a general overview of the divorce process and the potential outcomes. Provide as much as you can to your lawyer, and don’t hide anything from them. You’re reaching out to them so they can help you, so help them by being fully transparent.

Retaining an attorney:

Once you decide to proceed with the divorce, you need to hire an attorney to represent you. Your attorney will help you navigate the legal process and provide guidance throughout each of the divorce proceedings.

Gather financial information:

It is vital to gather all necessary financial information, including bank statements, tax returns, and retirement accounts, to ensure a fair division of assets during the divorce. Even if you don’t think something is worth showing your attorney, bring it to them so they can decide based on their legal expertise.

Determine whether to stay or go:

At this stage, you must decide whether to stay in the marriage and try to work things out or proceed with the divorce. This isn’t always the easiest decision, but it can help to sort things out with pros and cons. Really weigh your history together. Now is the time to make a decision.

Make a settlement proposal:

Once we know what we’re working with and have reviewed all aspects of your case,  you and our attorneys will work together to create a settlement proposal that addresses all matters of the case, including the division of assets, alimony, custody, and more. It is important to provide as much information as possible, so your attorney knows exactly what your want to achieve and how they can help you get there.

Negotiate, mediate, or file a lawsuit:

Depending on how well a proposed settlement is received, you may need to continue to negotiate a settlement with your spouse, participate in a mediation session, or file a lawsuit if you cannot reach an agreement. Mediation can lower costs and is almost always less stressful for the parties involved (including your kids). Your attorney will guide you on which strategy will be the most effective for your case moving forward.

Initial disclosures:

If you are headed to court, both parties must exchange initial disclosures. A TON of information is listed in the disclosures, including all assets and liabilities, who owns what, and the acquisition dates.

Temporary hearing:

Remember: divorce doesn’t happen overnight. This type of hearing may be necessary to address any urgent matters, such as temporary child custody, visitation, and support.

Court-ordered mediation:

For the state of North Carolina, this is mandatory for custody and division of assets, which is actually a good thing! Mediation happens outside of the courtroom and is used to negotiate and resolve issues by agreement rather than judicial involvement.


If you have a court case, you may send or have to respond to discovery requests.  During the discovery phase, both parties can request additional information from each other to prepare for trial. These can include statements, depositions, interrogatories, etc. Discovery is an important part of the overall process. Here, income, expenses, assets, and debts are further explored, which is helpful if you had a lot of loose ends and questions from the Initial Disclosure Stage regarding support or equitable distribution.

Pre-trial conferences:

Before the trial, the court may hold one or more pre-trial conferences to set deadlines so your case continues to move through the system. The court may also appoint experts or order appraisals at this time, but not always.

Trials and hearings:

If you do not reach an agreement on any aspect of your case, then the issue is set for a hearing or trial.  At a hearing or trial, the lawyers will inform the court of the issues and the supporting law, as well as ask you, your ex, and the witnesses questions.  The court may also ask questions of you and the witnesses.  Each side presents evidence, both verbal and written, to the court, and the court determines the outcome of the issue based on the testimony, the evidence, and the law.  At this point, you have placed all the decision-making in the court’s hands for it to determine what is the “right” outcome for your issues.

Our Team is there for you every step of the way

Divorce is an emotional experience that can be challenging to navigate alone. Whether it’s the stress, financial strain, or legal complexities, dealing with divorce can take a toll on anyone. When going through a divorce, it is essential to have a legal team that can provide the support and guidance you need to make informed decisions and protect your rights.

When you choose our legal team to help you through your divorce, you can rest assured that you have an experienced and knowledgeable ally on your side. Triangle Smart Divorce can help you understand the legal process, from filing for divorce and dividing assets to finalizing the divorce agreement. We’ve helped hundreds of clients make it through the process without headaches while protecting what they value the most.