What is a litigated divorce?
A litigated divorce is one where spouses utilize the court system to resolve their differences. Litigation may be necessary in situations where one party is unwilling to share information, actively hides information, or where settlement just can't be reached through other means.
How does litigation work?
In a litigated divorce, one party begins a divorce action against the other and each party hires an attorney to represent him or her in court. The issues to be resolved may include the valuation and division of assets and debts, custody of the children, parenting schedules, child support and spousal support.
After the litigation is started, the attorney gathers as much information and documentation as possible from the client and tries to get a clear picture of the expenses, income, assets and debts. If additional documentation is needed, there will be formal requests made of the other attorney to supplement what has been provided. Additionally, the attorneys may agree, or the court may order, that the parties obtain business, real estate and pension evaluations as necessary. The parties may serve subpoenas upon businesses, employers or other third parties to obtain any additional information that is not being provided by their spouse. A litigated divorce may also include depositions, which are transcribed interviews of the parties or other witnesses while they are under oath to tell the truth.
Typically, the parties and their attorneys will attempt to reach an agreement while simultaneously complying with court orders and deadlines. However, if the parties are unable to arrive at an agreement after they have exchanged all necessary information, they may ask the judge to conduct a trial and rule on the issues in dispute.
While we believe a courtroom is not an ideal place to resolve family matters, and we always support a client in attempting to resolve such matters amicably, sometimes litigation is the only option available if the parties are unable to agree.