After the decision to dissolve the marriage is made, a complex process begins with the filing of a complaint. People often think that the divorce is uncontested because their spouse agrees that the marriage has ended, and a divorce is the next step. However, if the parties have children, and assets, which may include, pensions, the parties must agree on the following before we can really call the divorce uncontested:
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Division of Property: both assets and debts
- Spousal Support
Agreeing to divorce and agreeing to paying a certain amount of spousal support or agreeing when you will see your children is not so easy. But, if both parties are in agreement about these four issues, a case can generally be resolved within a relatively short period of time, and with a single court appearance. . . to put through the divorce.
A Contested Divorce usually involves the following components:
- The filing of a complaint and proper service of the complaint
- Answer to the Complaint filed within 35 days of receipt of the complaint
- A Parenting workshop if there are children
- Preparation of a Case information Statement which lays out for the court the family’s economic picture
- Discovery which might include Answering Questions and taking testimony out of court, but under oath, appraisals of real estate, and valuation of pensions
- Hearings and Temporary Orders
- Settlement where the parties amicably resolve all of their issues and divorce; or,
- Trial where the judge decides issues like child support, parenting time, and division of assets and divorce
This process could take from twelve to eighteen months, or even longer. Once you leave the court after a judgement is entered, you will not likely be allowed to change the terms of the divorce, particularly as related to distribution of assets. This could be a tricky process especially because you will be dealing with not only the legal process, but your own emotions, your children’s reaction to the change, and lots of other issues. Call Cassandra T. Savoy. I offer experience, dedication and concern and compassion for you and your children. I commit to trying to help you allay the stress.