File For Divorce (Dissolution)
The person filing for divorce is referred to as the petitioner. The petition is served on the respondent. The respondent has 30 days from the service date to file a response with the Court.
30 Days – No Response Filed
If the other party doesn’t file a response within 30 days, a default judgment may be filed wherein you can obtain a judgment based on the information you set forth in your petition.
When a default is obtained, the respondent cannot respond to the dissolution without filing a motion to set aside the default or the parties stipulating to allow the respondent to file a response.
30 Days – Response Filed
Both parties are on a level playing field, and they can begin negotiating for a settlement or preparing for trial. Negotiating for settlement or preparing for trial often includes exchanging discovery and requesting temporary orders from the Court on issues such as child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, property, and attorney fees.
Discovery (Time Varies)
Discovery is simply the exchanging of information. The information can be in the form of documents that can be exchanged between the parties or in the form of testimony that can be obtained through depositions. Discovery is the time when information regarding disputed issues is ascertained. The length of discovery will depend on the amount of property acquired during the marriage (assets and debts) and the amount of those items which are contested (not agreed upon by the parties).
Mandatory Settlement Conference
When discovery is completed, if no settlement has been reached, either party may request the Court to schedule a mandatory settlement conference (some courts schedule these conferences automatically). The purpose of this conference is to allow the parties and their attorneys to discuss the case and try to resolve contested issues. The conferences are at the courthouse, allowing either side to request court assistance in resolving a matter. The Court does not usually make orders during these conferences. However, the Court offers helpful advice to assist the parties in settling their matter. It is very common for the Court to order more than one mandatory settlement conference.
All issues that are not resolved by a settlement will be decided by the Court at a trial. The trial will include all remaining issues in the matter. A trial can take as little as one afternoon or may be many days long, depending on the number and complexity of the issues.
The outcome of the trial is a judgment.