In some situations, divorcing couples cannot resolve conflict through mediation or negotiations. Such cases must be litigated. Although litigation is most costly and often the least efficient way of resolution, it is sometimes the only option.
To initiate the divorce process, you or your attorney must file a divorce complaint in the appropriate court. You will need to pay a filing fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver due to financial hardship.
After filing the complaint, you must serve the divorce papers to your spouse. This typically involves using a process server or the local sheriff to deliver the documents. Your spouse will then have a specific amount of time to respond to the complaint.
Your spouse may choose to respond to the divorce complaint. They can also file a counterclaim, which may outline their own grounds for divorce or request specific terms regarding property, support, and child custody.
During the divorce process, either party can request temporary orders for issues like child custody, child support, spousal support, and the use of marital property. These orders can be issued by the court to provide guidance until the divorce is finalized.
Both parties may engage in the discovery process, which involves exchanging information, documents, and evidence relevant to the divorce case. This process helps each side prepare for negotiations or trial.
Many divorce cases are settled outside of court through negotiation or mediation. If an agreement is reached, it is presented to the court for approval. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge will make the final decisions on property division, support, and custody.
Once the court approves the divorce agreement or the judge issues a decision after a trial, a final judgment of divorce is entered. This judgment legally ends the marriage.
In litigation, the skill, experience and effectiveness of the attorneys are of paramount importance. The attorneys representing you should possess the ability to clearly educate clients. They should have a thorough knowledge of the law and of procedure and evidence. They should have the ability to unravel complex financial issues. And they should be able to authoritatively and convincingly to present your case to the court.