Divorce Litigation

A contested divorce is defined as a divorce where the spouses are unable to come to an agreement on issues such as child custody and the division of marital assets. When a contested divorce occurs, the litigation process will take longer to complete. The spouses of a divorcing couple will head to court if they cannot come to an agreement on certain items and the court will make decisions on all issues that the couple cannot come to terms with. A contested divorce takes a long time to end because there are more than a handful of steps that must be completed. There are various steps in the process of a contested divorce: divorce lawyer consultation, divorce court petition, discovery process, and possible divorce mediation.

Divorce Lawyer Consultation

Meeting with an attorney should include meetings with various attorneys because the first attorney a person meets with may not be hired for the divorce case. The client should shop around to find the most experienced divorce attorney available and be able to make an informed decision as to which attorney is hired to represent the case. Once the perfect attorney has been hired that attorney will interview the client to find out as much information about their situation as possible. Also during the interview process, the attorney will gather all documents pertaining to the marriage assets, children from the marriage, and any other issues that the client feels are important to the case.

Divorce Court Petition

The petition for divorce, once filed with the court, will be served to the other spouse by the first spouse’s attorney. The papers can be served in person, via the mail, or by a deputy sheriff. If the spouse cannot be located, a notice can be published in local newspapers. If this occurs, the spouse serving the papers has to wait a predetermined period of time before moving ahead with the divorce process. The spouse has 30 days to respond to the serving of the papers regarding divorce. If the spouse does not respond within the required amount of time then the court might grant a default judgment of divorce to the person who served the papers.

Discovery in Divorce

If the spouse does respond to the paperwork then the contested divorce will move onto the next stage; discovery. Discovery is when both spouses of the couple obtain information from each other regarding the marital assets, income, custody, and any other issues relevant to their individual case against the other spouse. This process is completed through written interrogatories, document requests, and depositions. As the process of discovery goes on the spouses are allowed to request temporary child support or alimony from the court.

Divorce Mediation

The majority of judges will encourage the couple to come to terms about the divorce prior to heading to court to avoid more legal fees and a lengthier process. The judge can order the couple to attend mediation. Mediation involves a third party attempts to help the couple negotiate their unresolved issues. If mediation does not work for the couple then the discovery process will continue and the couple will head to divorce court later. Once the trial begins both spouses are allowed to interview witnesses, cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, and make closing arguments in their favor. How quickly a case goes to trial depends on the amount of other cases in the area where the couple is getting divorced. Post-trial motions occur when either party in the case can file a motion up to 30 days following the trial. The other spouse has 30 days to respond to the post-trial motion filed. A notice of appeal can be filed if a post-trial motion has been denied by the court. An appeal can be filed 30 days following the judgment or 30 days following the post-trial motion is denied.

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