For my first post I want to focus on the process you’ll go through in family court for divorce cases. I think different people will find different ways to go through a divorce or other family law case – some people are most comfortable trying to find someone they can connect with and trust to give them information they need and guide them through; some people will also want to look on-line like this and try to get information to help. With all the information available now on the internet, it’s almost inevitable that we all do at least a few internet searches to look up information, whether we’re dealing with buying a new car or appliance, researching a medical issue or here issues regarding a divorce or other family law cases.
One thing I think is helpful is to have some sort of an overview of the whole process. There are a few ways a divorce case (or a case to establish paternity or child support and other family law cases) can proceed. One way is everyone agrees in advance, there is no dispute, the parties prepare all the required court pleadings and settlement agreement together. I’ll put together in a future post a list of the forms you’ll need, for example, for a divorce case where there is property to divide and the parties have minor children. If everyone agrees and there are no disputes or uncertain issues, the case can be resolved quickly.
In other situations, the divorce case in court begins by someone filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – a divorce lawsuit in which the “Petitioner” asks for what they are seeking in the divorce – dissolution of the marriage, division of property, child-support, time-sharing for the children, alimony, and begins to present and explain their case to the Judge. After the Petition is filed the case proceeds along the following course:
- The other side – the “Respondent”, is “served”
- The Respondent files and serves an Answer or Counter-Petition
- The parties go through a process called “Discovery”, and file and schedule hearings before the Court regarding Motions including motions for “Temporary Relief”
- The parties negotiate and enter into a Settlement Agreement, or
- Voluntarily or under an Order from the Court go to Mediation
- And if still no Agreement, go to Trial