Litigation is the most familiar process because it is most often depicted in literature, television, and movies. Litigation is generally more time-consuming and costly than other avenues, but is sometimes more effective where the parties are on an unequal footing financially, where there has been abuse of a spouse or child, or where one party is unwilling to cooperate and participation must be compelled by the court. Parties in litigation are under an obligation to produce financial and other documents within a certain time frame. Depending on the circumstances and needs of the parties and/or the minor children, one or both parties may file Motions with the court requesting certain relief, such as child or spousal support or parenting time.
As part of the court’s oversight of the litigation process, except in cases where there is domestic violence, the parties are strongly encouraged to meet together, with their attorneys, to try and reach an agreement on some or all the issues presented in the case. In fact, in most cases that begin in litigation the parties do reach a mediated agreement that is filed in court, sometimes at the first and only court appearance. The court will make several attempts and employ certain methods to help the parties reach agreement and settle their differences, such as Conciliation, with a trained conciliator, or a Limited Issue Settlement Conference, with a retired judge. Where attempts at settlement are not successful, there will be a trial with testimony from the parties and other witnesses, after which the judge will issue a final judgment. Please call or email to learn more about our family law services.