The Divorce Process: Retaining a Divorce Lawyer in Uncontested and Contested Cases

by | Mar 14, 2013 | Lawyers

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Marriage is a complex institution. At the best of times, there are marriages that last a lifetime and there are marriages that are doomed to failure. If a couple finds that their marriage is beyond repair, the services of Jacksonville divorce lawyers may be required.

An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree on all issues at the beginning of a divorce case.  A single lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce as this would be considered a conflict of interest. If a divorce is uncontested, a single lawyer can assist both parties in preparing any necessary documents. Under these circumstances, the lawyer can do all the necessary paperwork, but in the event that the parties disagree on any issue when preparing a settlement document, then the parties will need to individually retain their own attorneys to move forward with their case. The attorney that was originally contacted can not represent either party if an uncontested case becomes a contested one.

Uncontested divorces are less costly than contested divorces. A contested divorce has no defined end, and the amount of work involved is not known until it’s finalized. An uncontested divorce is very straight forward. Although every lawyer and law firm has their own fee schedule, often the ratio of cost between contested and uncontested cases can be 10:1.

What is the process of a divorce?

Whether a case is uncontested or contested, your divorce case begins with the filing of a Petition. Jacksonville divorce lawyers may be called upon to file the divorce papers with the court, get the papers served, conduct discovery, attend mediation and prepare a marital settlement agreement and parenting plan if there are minor children involved.  If an agreement can not be reached between the parties, a divorce lawyer will prepare for trial and help a client obtain a judgment from the court.

If all of the steps required by law are met, and the judge agrees with the settlement of the parties, then the divorce is granted and a divorce decree is issued.

If a typical contested divorce case, a divorce lawyer will prepare the Petition and other required documents and file them in court on behalf of his or her client. The Petition and other required documents are then delivered to either a sheriff’s office or a process server to be served upon the opposing party.  The opposing party then typically files an Answer and Counterclaim. Once the other party files his or her Answer to the Petition, lawyers will typically proceed with discovery, which is when interrogatories and requests to produce are made, depositions may be taken, experts retained and if necessary, investigations are made. When discovery is complete, parties are then required to engage in mediation to see if they can resolve their case without the need for a trial.  If they do not reach an agreement at mediation, a court date is set for the trial and both parties will need to spend a significant amount of time and money preparing their case for a judge.

If a judge has to decide a case, usually property obtained during a marriage will be divided equally with no regard to fault or who spent what to obtain a particular asset. Any non-marital property will be set aside to the individual owner without dividing it with his or her spouse. In some cases, the marital home is awarded to the party who has majority time sharing with the minor children. Every case is unique and a fair and equitable result for one family may not be a fair and equitable result for another.

If you are contemplating dissolving your marriage, then having experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyers will be to your advantage. You are invited to contact the law offices of Cameron Baker & Associates, P.A.