A Litigant's Primer to Divorce Litigation, Abridged
Lesley Renee Adams, Attorney at Law
Divorce, Family Law Attorneys
1. Reflect, Meditate, Pray: Whether you are a person of faith, describe yourself as a spiritual person or an agnostic, your marriage was contemplated before you entered it, even if you and your spouse eloped. The same thought process you used to think about entering your marriage is what you should use to determine the end of your marriage.
2. Truly think about the kids: You and your spouse both love your child or children. You should not try to alienate your child or children from their other parent. You will scar them for life and ultimately damage her, his or their relationship with you.
3. Gather Your Resources: How much did your wedding cost? Did you have a budget? What resources did you use to pay for your wedding? Those answers are instructive because most people planned in advance for their wedding. Litigation is expensive. Therefore you need a plan to fund it. You have time to plan, so do it. I recommend that you spend your time and money: wisely, intelligently and most of all strategically.
i. A consultation budget, you should select an attorney that you are comfortable with, the two of you will be working very closely together. I recommend you consult with at least 3 attorneys.
ii. A litigation budget: this is your biggest expense, potential clients always ask me how much a case will cost, I have never been able to estimate, there are too many unknown variables.
iii. A funding source budget: your salary, your credit cards, your savings, your family and friends are all potential sources. While the Judge may order your spouse to provide you with funds, if you are under employed or unemployed, that is a motion, which has to be made which means it has to be funded first and won second.
4. Pre-filing: You have decided to move forward with your divorce. You have your funding sources lined up and can met your retainer requirements and are providing that attorney with all the information needed to file the complaint.
5. Post-Complaint: Welcome to litigation. The Judge has set a schedule for discovery. Documents and records are demanded from each side, admissions requested, experts hired, depositions taken. Due to the volume of documents going back and forth, I typically have my staff e-mail my clients everything in .pdf format so their file is as complete as mine. This policy is part of our Green Initiative and has the added benefit of saving clients costs for making paper copies and better focuses funding resources where they are needed.
6. Pre-Trial: You have all the information you are going to receive. This is the best time to come to an agreement, this is the phase where emotions are the most in control and logic can prevail.
7. Trial: Almost all efforts to settle have been exhausted. Your attorney has prepared a trial notebook, made copies for the court and the other attorney. Now it depends on the Judge, he or she will determine when your trial begins and how many hours you have on a particular day. You should remove from thought TV show or Hollywood movie trails, or even continuous trials; your trial may take place over months not days or weeks. The Court System has time tables that push you to this point, but because of back log and your Judge's particular schedule, no one can predict when you case will begin, end or what the Judge will ultimately decide.
I always tell my clients to please remember, “The date of the final judgment is the End of the End and the Beginning of the Beginning”. What does that mean, well, the final judgment of divorce’s date is not only the End of the End of your marriage but it is also and more importantly the Beginning of the Beginning of the rest of your Life.
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© 2012, Lesley Renee Adams, Attorney at Law
, Family Law Attorneys