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Almost all divorces follow the same timeline. First, one spouse serves the other with a summons for a divorce. The summons can be accompanied with either a notice or a complaint. At this stage, the person who is served with these documents must decide whether they are going to contest the divorce. If they choose not to contest, the parties can agree to all the terms and obtain an uncontested divorce.
If your spouse chooses to contest the divorce, they will then retain an attorney and file an answer. At this point, the parties can begin negotiating a settlement, if one is possible. In addition, this may be the time to ask the court for financial help if your spouse has left you without the means to support yourself or your children. This request for help while the divorce is pending, is called pendente lite or interim relief. For stay-at-home moms, this can be a powerful tool that allows them to get out of a bad situation with the aid of the courts.
If no settlement is reached, the divorce moves into the next stage, called the discovery stage, where both parties exchange information. This is the stage where both of you must submit information to the court regarding your net worth and also the stage where you can ask your spouse questions that they must reply to in writing, called interrogatories. At this time you can request copies of any documents you think will help you to establish your case and also conduct depositions where you we call your spouse in to answer any questions we may have.
The good news is that by the time the discovery stage is over, most divorces will settle. However, if at the end of this stage a settlement is not reached, the divorce moves into the trial stage. During this stage, we take all the evidence we have collected up until this point, call any witnesses we may have and make our case to the judge as to why you are entitled to the relief you seek.
Contested divorces are lengthy and expensive. For many clients, they are not the right solution and there are many alternatives to this drawn out process that may be better for your situation. In some case, however, this is the only route available. No matter which direction your divorce takes you, our firm can offer you the right representation. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, or dealing with a contested divorce and need this type of assertive, zealous representation, call our firm today.