In a small minority of our cases, the parties are unable to resolve all of the issues through negotiation, mediation or the collaborative process. When that occurs, the only way to resolve the issues is through a trial. It often seems unfortunate when litigation is the only option because litigation is the costliest and often the least controllable way of resolving disputes. As unfortunate as this may be, it also can be a reality and we are always ready, willing and able to counsel our clients through this reality and to advocate for them to the very best of our abilities from the beginning to the end of this often stressful process.
In the divorce context, the litigation process is generally similar to other areas of law in that it involves the filing of pleadings, a detailed discovery process and, ultimately, a trial on any issues that could not be resolved between the parties. Pleadings are the documents that each of the parties files in order to formally request from the court whatever it is they are seeking in the case. Discovery is the exchange of important information, usually after formal request, of financial records and, at times, child-related information. Discovery also usually includes depositions, which are oral examinations under oath of parties and relevant third party witnesses, and interrogatories, which are written questions that are required to be answered in writing under oath. Discovery can be intrusive, time consuming and costly, but in a litigation context it is absolutely necessary. Skilled attorneys seek to avoid unnecessary discovery and conduct each and every discovery event with a keen focus on only what is important for resolving the case.
In cases where there are questions about a party’s standard of living for alimony purposes, the value of a business, or a party’s honesty in regard to financial matters, we often employ a forensic accountant to perform detailed investigations and analyses. In cases involving substantial disputes relating to parenting and timesharing matters, forensic psychologists may be retained to evaluate the family situation, and each of the family members, with an eye toward what is in the best interests of the children. Often in these types of cases, the Court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the children and make recommendations to the Court.
Unlike other areas of law, in many divorce cases, the Court conducts temporary financial and child-related proceedings that are intended to resolve matters for as long as the case is pending. Many times in litigation, before the Court can reach an ultimate resolution of the issues, the parties are unable to agree on, among other things, how much support should be paid or what timesharing schedule is best for the children while the case is pending. This can include the exclusive use of a marital home, payment of household expenses, the provision of health insurance, medical care expenses, child care, school expenses, and other necessary items. Needless to say, from the filing of motions through a full evidentiary hearing, obtaining temporary relief from a judge can take much attorney time and be very costly, but again, unless the parties can resolve the matters outside of court, a contested hearing may be the only option to resolve these critical issues. Once discovery, temporary relief and evaluations have been completed, if the case is not then settled, it is set for trial.
Depending on the complexity of the issues, trials can take days or even weeks to complete. If we have to go to trial, you can rest assured that our skill, experience and effectiveness in the courtroom will play a major role in the outcome of the trial.
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