When you know what to expect, it can make stressful situations easier. Read on for some directions on what to expect at each stage of the divorce process.

Separate — In many states, you should be living under separate roofs when you begin the divorce process. As you part ways, consider addressing common divorce issues now by creating a separation agreement. Speak to your divorce lawyer about making a legal separation agreement. With that agreement, you can deal with child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support, who pays which bills, who resides in the family home, and more.

File for Divorce — You should be the first one to file for divorce. It tends to give you an upper hand throughout the process to do so. Have your lawyer draw up the divorce petition, and it will be filed in court. The petition states that you wish to divorce, the reasons why, and details each issue in turn. Use a professional service to serve your spouse so that you have proof that they received the paperwork.

Hearings and Orders — When an issue arises, a hearing might be ordered. The judge will listen to each side and make a ruling in the form of an order. For instance, you may be paid child support from your spouse if they make more money than you. This can begin while you are separated. Other issues that may be addressed by orders include orders to remain in the state with the children, to pay certain bills, and restraining orders to prevent things from happening.

Mediation — If you and your spouse don't agree on some matters, try mediation. In some cases, the judge may order you to participate in mediation. A neutral third party will attempt to bring you and your spouse closer on disputed issue using compromises.

Agreement Conferences — This meeting is a casual matter between the attorneys and both parties. With this conference, which can be a series of meetings, the parties discuss their differences and try to work things out without taking things to court. If an agreement on all issues can be hammered out, it's made legal in the decree.

Discovery — If your divorce is headed for trial, you may have to go through discovery. Divorcing parties that involve a lot of disagreements, that include very high amounts of assets, or that may include public persons, may include discovery. This is where the parties share information about the case with each side.

Court or the Final Decree — Your divorce will be final once the matters are all resolved in court or by agreement.

To find out more, speak to your divorce lawyer.