When a couple cannot come to an agreement on important issues of their divorce, such as child custody, property division and financial support, they may go to trial. At trial, the judge decides which disputed issues are the most important, usually by hearing evidence from both parties and their witnesses.
Litigation can be a stressful and costly process that is often fought in the courtroom with emotions running high. It is important to be efficient, prepared and cooperative during the litigation process so that you can get your case resolved quickly and effectively.
The first step in the divorce litigation process is to file a “complaint” or “petition” (depending on your state) in court, which will include an explanation of what the parties want and need. The parties will also exchange documents and information regarding the property and finances that are in question, so that the attorneys can help the couple determine which property is community property versus separate property.
Once the paperwork has been filed and served on the other party, the spouse who was served must answer the petition/complaint within a certain period of time or else a “default” judgment will be entered. Failure to respond on time can be difficult and expensive to reverse, so be sure to communicate with your attorney about what you expect from your response to the petition/complaint.
A lot of motions will be made during the litigation process, involving financial and custodial issues and litigation-specific issues like discovery. This can consume a significant amount of time and extend the process.
This is why it’s important to take control of your emotions and try to focus on the facts of the matter. Getting into a fight in the courtroom is not going to benefit you or your partner in the long run, so avoid unnecessary fights by listening to your attorney and respecting their advice.
All too often, couples in divorce cases are wasting a tremendous amount of time and money by taking issues to trial that could easily have been settled during the proceedings. This can result in a lengthy court proceeding that could have been resolved if both parties had been more open to settlement and less obstreperous.
By avoiding trials and unnecessary discovery, both parties can protect their assets and reduce legal fees. This is especially true for couples with modest incomes who are battling over who will pay for their attorneys’ fees in the event of a divorce.
Aside from the fact that many of the issues involved in a divorce are complex, the court system can be a very intimidating place for a person who is not familiar with it. This is why it is important to have a neutral and impartial attorney representing you in your case.
In addition to hiring a divorce attorney in Miami, it’s also very helpful to bring in a divorce consultant and/or custody professional to assist you with the mediation and litigation process. A consultant can provide guidance and help you make legal and emotional decisions in a confidential and safe environment.