Litigating A Divorce - Quick Tour Of The Court Process

Divorcing couples are increasingly looking to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for cheaper, faster and more effective out-of-court solutions. But when these fail, heading to court may be the last resort to settle outstanding differences and move on with life. What does the process look like and what can couples expect? Our post this week provides a bird's eye view.

The Case Conference

Litigating a divorce starts with a case conference. Nothing can move forward through the court system without this step. During the conference, both parties and their lawyers meet with a judge. They set out the issues and make an early exploration of the possibilities for resolving them. If no resolution results, the parties gain clarity on administrative details and next steps such as ensuring financial disclosure and setting out dates and timetables.

Motions For Temporary Orders

At this point, either party may ask the judge to make temporary orders until the divorce becomes finalized. This may include decisions on financial support, child custody or which party may possess the matrimonial home in the interim.

The Settlement Conference

At every stage of the litigation process, parties ideally aim to come to an agreement and close the case. If the case conference fails to end the dispute, the parties proceed to a settlement conference. Issues are narrowed down and divided - ones that can be resolved without further court attendance and those that may require examination at trial. The judge may provide a fore gleam of the outcome at an eventual trial -- insight that could change perspectives and encourage a speedier resolution.

The Trial Management Conference

If all else fails, the case may find its way into the courtroom. At the trial management conference, parties provide the court with information and plans outlining their preparedness to go to trial. This may include such plans as witnesses the lawyers intend to bring and estimates on the time each side will need to present evidence.

Once everything is in order, the parties can fight it out in court. But even when it's all said and done, a disgruntled party may still be able to appeal. But that's a whole other matter for a future post.

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