Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A
Divorce Information – Petitions, Discovery, Settlement and Trial
Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P.A divorce attorneys work to ensure every client has the divorce information and family law resources they need to understand the divorce process and know what to expect before meeting with a family law attorney. A divorce can be a long process, and preparation is key in minimizing the length of your case.
To obtain a divorce, the husband or wife must petition a court for a judgment of divorce. Attorneys usually draw up these documents for the Petitioner (otherwise known as the Plaintiff or person filing for divorce).
The initial petition often demands much more than the Petitioner expects. Do not worry if your wife claims that she cannot support herself and therefore wants you to pay all attorney fees. Attorneys often use the initial petition as a wish list.
In most states, the Respondent (also known as the defendant or the person who didn’t file the divorce) has a limited time to file an answer. The Respondent’s answer is usually brief, admitting or denying each assertion and asking the court to deny the Petitioner’s request.
With the Answer, the Respondent often files a Cross-Petition or Counter-Claim to set forth his position on the basic facts and the relief he seeks. It is always a good idea to file a Cross-Petition; without it, the Respondent could easily find himself at trial facing an agenda set by his wife’s inflated wish list. In most states, the Petitioner has a limited time to file a response to the Cross-Petition.
Early in the process, parties may file motions for temporary orders to address any pressing issue that cannot wait until the end of the divorce.
But most parties make serious efforts to arrive at an acceptable temporary arrangement without going to court. Avoiding temporary orders will help keep down attorneys’ fees and possibly create a more favorable impression on the judge.
Discovery is the process of gathering information that will build and strengthen your case at trial. During discovery, you will gather favorable information about yourself for your attorney to present to the court.
But equally important is anticipating your opponent’s case. Winning a favorable judgment means you have to be prepared to deal with your wife’s allegations.
It is common for cases to settle on the day of the trial and in some cases even during the trial. The settlement agreement has important advantages. A reasonable settlement agreement may allow you and your wife more control over your judgment. Many clients prefer to avoid the anxiety of wagering their lives on a judge’s decision.
Additionally, time and money considerations may lead to a settlement. You may wait one to two years for your trial, but meanwhile, both you, and your wife’s attorneys’ fees will continue to climb. These fees normally increase dramatically as the trial date approaches.
Finally, as tempting as it is, it is almost always a mistake to negotiate directly with your spouse, even when your attorney is in the loop. Any deals that you cut can create unrealistic expectations that will calcify into intractable positions. The litigation fallout from the miscommunication can easily double your attorney fees.