It is not always possible to resolve matters amicably. In order for the parties to agree to a Separation Agreement both of them have to cooperate in the process in good faith. The best intention of one person is not enough and so where there is a lack of cooperation and/or a lack of a desire to resolve things amicably parties end up in court, even if they don’t want to.
The Petition – In order to get a Final Order and/or a Divorce the person who wants to move forward files a Petition. From that point forward they are the Petitioner and the other party is the Respondent. The Petitioner asks for all of the relief that they may need, such as parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
The Answer – The Respondent has an opportunity to respond to the relief sought. Their Answer states what relief sought in the Petition is in agreement, what is not in agreement and what relief is sought by the Respondent.
Case Conferences – Case conferences are a form of judicial mediation to see if they can help the parties reach an agreement without the need for litigation. Typically a case conference is needed before any further steps can be taken. For the most part you are allowed up to 3 case conferences before the matter is set down for trial. If the parties can come to an agreement it is either reflected in a Separation Agreement and/or Final Order and set down for an Uncontested Divorce if the parties are married.
Motions – Motions, or interlocutory proceedings, are like mini trials leading up to the main trial. Motions are often needed to deal with issues that cannot wait until trial, which can be years after the Petition is filed. Common topics for motions include interim access, child support, spousal support, and holiday time.
Trial – If it is determined during the case conference process that the matter simply cannot be resolved by way of agreement then the matter is set down for trial. In order to prepare for trial there will be document exchanges, cross-examinations, calling witnesses, legal research and general preparation. At trial the judge will hear from the parties and their witnesses, hear arguments from counsel and make a determination of the matter which becomes a Final Order.