A Court cannot grant a divorce until the Petition for divorce has been pending for at least 60 days. This time period begins to run on the date the first spouse files a Petition for Divorce with the Court.
This “waiting period” serves many purposes. Sometimes it permits the parties to “cool-down” and possibly reconcile. Generally, however, it is hoped that the parties will use this time to reach an agreement regarding the specifics of their pending divorce.
Number One Rule
Don’t do anything or say anything that could possibly be detrimental to your case. We have seen spouses many times make emotional decisions during the waiting period that end up being a major topic for the judge to address. We will provide you with plenty of examples of what not to do.
General Activities During the Waiting Period
During the waiting period, we will discuss your goals and desires and various strategies to achieve them. Our aim is to have the end result be as close to your goals as possible.
We will also begin negotiating with your spouse (or their attorney) in an attempt to come to an agreement on as many issues as possible. Agreements will often prevent the judge from making decisions regarding your life, your property, and your children that may not be inline with your desires.
Temporary Court Orders
The Court, on its own motion, or the motion of either party, after notice and a hearing, may grant temporary orders.
Temporary orders set out the “ground rules” for the parties’ conduct during the waiting period with regard to such matters as the preservation of property, the protection of both parties, and issues pertaining to the children such as child support and visitation.
The Court can also decide who will temporarily remain in the marital residence, which party will have to move out and how the bills and expenses of the family will be paid during the pendency of the divorce case.
This would also be the proper time to request the court appoint a therapist, parenting coordinator/facilitator if one is necessary.
If the right to determine the primary residence of the children or possession of the children is a contested issue in the case, the Court might also order the parties to complete an evaluation with an expert to assist that Court in determining what the best interest of the children might be. This is known as a “custody evaluation” or “social study.”
The spouse who filed the Petition for Divorce is called the Petitioner. The other spouse (“Respondent”) may file a response document called the “Answer.” The Answer might address issues brought up in the other spouse’s Petition, and/or introduce new issues into the equation. Regardless of which side you are on, we will evaluate and develop a winning strategy.
The Courts require or encourage parties to try to reach agreement. If our negotiations are not initially successful, we may decide to use a common dispute resolution method called mediation.
Mediation is a non-binding, confidential process that may be done at any time during the divorce proceedings and the cost is paid by the parties. The mediator is a neutral third party either appointed by the court or selected by the parties by agreement.
The mediator meets separately with the parties and tries to assist in finding a common ground and solutions acceptable to both parties. Mediation does not require a resolution or a settlement, but if a settlement is reached, the agreement is then usually considered binding.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the issues will then be presented to the judge or a jury at the final hearing.
Final Divorce Hearing
If a final hearing is necessary, the law requires the opposing party be given at least 45 days notice unless all parties agree to an earlier date in which the Court is available.
Some divorces are done in the minimum allowable time. Others have been known to take years. Attorney Vince Handler will develop a strategy to help you resolve the issues as quickly as possible so you can get on with your life. Contact us today.