A contested divorce can become one of the most difficult and challenging events in a person’s life. Sometimes divorcees can’t agree on important issues such as child custody and spousal support. In such cases, the litigation process can be long and costly, especially if you don’t have an experienced Salt Lake City divorce attorney by your side.
- Meet with your attorney – Once you have met with your attorney, and discuss your options regarding marital assets, children, and any other divorce-related issues, you will know what you are entitled to receive. Your attorney will help you prepare your divorce petition and handle all the legalities so you can focus on your goals and rebuild your life. You will have to gather a lot of important documents regarding spousal support, child support, and distribution of marital property. Keep a copy of every important document filed at the family court.
- File your divorce petition – Once the petition has been filed, your spouse will be notified either in person, by email, or through local authorities. Your spouse should be served with the filed petition before continuing the divorce process. Your attorney can instruct you how to do this.
- Responding to the petition – Your spouse needs to respond to the petition within 30 days. If they don’t respond you can obtain a default judgment. If your former spouse responds, then you will proceed to the next divorce stages.
- Discovery – During this stage, you and the other parent will gather important information through written questions, requests, and depositions. Remember there is a time limit when both parties can respond. Sometimes a party may miss the deadline in order to slow down the process or hide marital property. This is why your Salt Lake City divorce attorney should keep your former spouse informed and make sure he or she responds to the requests in a timely fashion.
- Settlement – Whether through mediation or simply talking to your former spouse, courts always encourage divorcees to come to an agreement before taking it to court. If the divorce parties can’t agree, then the case may proceed with divorce court.
- Trial and post-trial – This is the time to present clear and convincing evidence. Judges hear both sides of the story and write a final order. You have up to 30 days to file a post-trial motion and your former spouse also has up to 30 days to respond to the motion.
- Appeal – When the post-trial motions are denied, a notice of appeal can be filed also within 30 days. The case may go back to trial, depending on the final decision.
It is important to note that you might not need all these stages for your specific situation. In most cases, all steps are not necessary. However, in highly contested divorce cases, the battle can be long and costly. The best way to handle the stress of a contested divorce is to contact your attorney immediately. Attorneys are avid negotiators and they always protect their clients’ interests.