Choose a divorce attorney with more than 38 years of experience. Michael D. Miller, Jr. Attorney at Law, helps his clients get through the divorce process and fights for the best possible resolution.
The Dissolution Process
The dissolution process begins with filing a petition for dissolution with the superior court of the county in which the parties reside. The petition is either served on the other party by a licensed process server or – if agreed upon – the other party may sign an Acceptance of Service in front of a notary, which has the same effect as being personally served.
The other party, known as the respondent, has 20 days to file a response. If a response is not filed, the petitioner may proceed by default. If a response is filed then, in most cases, the court will automatically set what the court calls a resolution management conference. As the title would indicate, this is an opportunity for both sides to appear in front of the court and discuss the best and most efficient way to proceed toward resolution of the issues. Before the conference, each party is obligated to prepare a resolution management conference statement, which clearly sets forth each party's position on the various issues for the court. Often this is the first time potential offers of settlement are exchanged. If certain issues appear to be agreed upon based upon the statements, the court generally enters those agreements on the record, and the agreements become binding on the parties.
Mediation & Trials
If matters remain unresolved, the court will set a mediation conducted by a pro tem judge. The mediation is a procedure whereby a neutral third party helps the parties reach a settlement. These pro tem judges serve on a volunteer basis and do not charge the parties for their services. The court will either set a status conference, to be conducted after the mediation to determine whether a trial is still necessary, or simply set the trial to take place after the mediation. The process of setting a trial used to take up to 18 months, but the court has streamlined the process, and current guidelines provide that trials should occur within 12 months of the initial filing of the petition. In actuality, the process, while not immediate, is quicker than that. Generally, simple cases are set for trial within six months of filing. More complicated cases can take up to the year as mandated by the courts.
A dissolution trial isn't exactly like the courtroom drama we see in movies and on television. Generally, experienced attorneys can put together an organized presentation that includes testimony, expert opinion if applicable, and documenting evidence so that the court has all of the information available to make a good and fair decision. To ensure the best result possible at trial, it is important to consult and hire an experienced FAMILY LAW attorney.