The Court Process
In the context of Family Law, we often hear of the term “uncontested divorce”. Anything outside of an uncontested divorce suggests it is as a contested divorce. This does not mean the divorce itself is being contested, but rather the terms of the divorce are being contested. There are several ways to come to a resolution about the terms of your divorce, including mediation and arbitration, however, we will be discussing the court process.
If you and your spouse are able to reach a resolution on all issues, the terms of your agreement will be incorporated into the divorce order. However, if for example there is a disagreement on the amount of child support that is owed, or if there is a disagreement about who will have primary residence with the children, this will require the involvement of a judge to resolve these matters and make a final order.
Commencing an Application
The first step of a family law proceeding involves the issuance, service, and filing of an Application. The Application will include all the relief you are seeking. Examples of relief include claims for decision-making responsibilities on behalf of the children, a schedule for parenting time, primary residency of the children, child support, spousal support, and equalization of net family properties.
If there are claims in your Application for both property division and child or spousal support, or support issues only with no property division claim, you will also need to submit a Financial Statement. There are two types of Financial Statement forms, depending on whether your claim includes property division. If there are claims relating to children, you will also need to file an Affidavit with respect to decision-making responsibility, parenting time, and contact. These documents are often referred to as originating documents, and are pleadings that will be relied on throughout the course of your litigation. Your spouse has 30 days to respond to your Application with an Answer, outlining his or her counter-claims.
Conferences and Settlement Opportunities
There are several opportunities to come to a settlement during the litigation process. From the time an Application is issued, served, and filed, and before a trial, there are several conferences that are heard before a judge where the parties are given an opportunity to resolve the matters, with the assistance and guidance of a judge. These are referred to as case conferences or settlement conferences. If your matter is not resolved at either of these conferences, you will proceed to a trial management conference, where the judge will assess the readiness of your matter for trial, and proceed to set it down for a trial date.
Contact our office today if you require further information on commencing an Application in court, or have questions about conferences, motions, or trial.