1. Breakdown In The Relationship
It may have come as a surprise to you, but the chances are that something went wrong in the relationship long before you or your spouse asked for a divorce. Typically we see a pattern of gradual emotional distancing and erosion of trust between the spouses. Often the allegations of infidelity (either real or imagined) follow, and a complete breakdown in communications.
2. Lawyering Up
One side will usually start talking with family and friends about the failing relationship. Once the big “D” word (divorce) is finally out in the open, family members and friends begin to give advice (solicited and unsolicited) on what to do and how to choose an attorney. Finally, an attorney is often randomly selected amongst a myriad of names that are thrown out by the family and friends.
3. Filing the Divorce Case
The plaintiff files the Complaint and Summons with the court and serves a copy on the opposing party (the defendant). The party initiating the divorce case is the plaintiff, and the other party is the defendant. In the Complaint, the party filing for divorce makes a list of claims against the defendant. It will request the court to grant the divorce, custody, and support, and divide the marital property. Filing of the Complaint starts the process, forcing the other side to act or risk defaulting and giving the Plaintiff everything asked for in the complaint.
4. Answering the Complaint
Although a person served with the divorce complaint is not required by law to respond to the complaint, it is always a good idea to file an answer. See here.
5. Discovery Process
Making reasoned and practical decisions about custody and property issues is impossible without first gathering all the information available. The old saying that “knowledge is power” holds true here. This hunt for information is called the discovery process. Both sides will routinely file requests for information in the form of interrogatories, requests for admission, requests for production of documents and depositions.
Idaho courts in divorce cases will regularly order the parties to complete a minimum of three hours of mediation in hopes of resolving the case or, in the alternative, narrowing the issues for the upcoming trial. See here. The mediation will be presided over by a professional mediator.
7. Attorney Negotiations
Aside from the mediation process, the opposing attorneys are also communicating back and forth. They are trying to resolve a variety of legal issues having to do with discovery, potential legal motions and any issues that may have to do with the upcoming trial. The attorneys are also trying to facilitate the mediation process going on between the parties and addressing any other remaining contentious issues.
If the parties cannot resolve the divorce case in the mediation process, a trial will be necessary, and the judge will have the final word on the remaining issues of child custody and property division. The trial is a formal process whereby the two adversarial parties present their case to the judge. She will make a decision that is legally binding on the parties as long as she acts within the confines of the law.
9. Divorce Decree
A Decree of Divorce is a document that includes the specific rights and responsibilities of both parties that carries the force of the law behind it.
10. Enforcement of the Divorce Decree
Having the binding decree is one thing and enforcing its terms is quite another. Many divorcees discover to their disappointment that it is sometimes difficult to enforce the decree. The other party might not live up to their obligations. Such situations often require separate actions to enforce the existing legal rights established in the divorce process. For example, motions for contempt of court.
Dinko is the lead Family Law Attorney at Atkinson Law Offices. He handles family law, divorce, and child custody cases. He is fluent in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.