Once a Complaint for Divorce is filed, and the other party is served with notice, the defending party has 30 days to file an Answer to the Complaint responding to each of the statements and allegations contained therein. If no response is made, a default judgment can be requested by the filing party. Once an Answer is filed, the lawsuit can end by voluntarily dismissal, agreement by the parties, or after a trial before a Judge.
A contested divorce can be significantly more complex and drawn-out than an uncontested divorce. The duration of this process will ultimately depend on the parties and what issues need to be resolved. There is series of events that will need to happen during these proceedings. After the Complaint has been filed and the opposing party answers, the next phase involves "Discovery," which is a series of written requests for information each side is allowed to ask the other party, which must be responded to under oath within thirty (30) days. The goal of discovery is to allow everyone to see the entire picture of the divorce, including all issues, all assets and debts. Typically, negotiations will begin after this phase. If the parties are not able to come to an agreement, the Court will require the parties to submit to a Mediation, where a neutral mediator will work with the parties and their attorneys to try and reach a settlement or compromise. If mediation fails, a trial will be scheduled before the Judge, who will rule on all unresolved issues.
It is important to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and obligations before signing any document sent by your spouse in divorce proceedings. You could be giving up your rights to a fair distribution of the marital assets, or agreeing to do things you would otherwise not want to do. Our firm is experienced and dedicated to guide and assist our clients throughout this intricate and often challenging process.