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What is the Contested Divorce Process

Step 1: Hire a lawyer. Your lawyer will draft a Complaint for Divorce, Notice of Injunction, and Summons. If applicable, they may also draft and file: Proposed Temporary Parenting Plan, Motion for Temporary Alimony/Child Support, Motion for Attorneys Fees, or any other applicable restraining orders or injunctions.

Step 2: You meet with your lawyer, review the paperwork, and sign it. Your pleadings are filed with the Court and your spouse is served with them. The Spouse then has 30 days to hire their own lawyer and/or file certain paperwork with the court.

Step 3: Parties engage in the discovery process, in one form or another. This may be done formally or informally. Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered under oath and that will require production of documents (such as bank statements or proof of assets & debt values). Depositions are questions administered verbally with a court reporter present. Both are vehicles to ascertain information from your spouse.

The attorneys and parties may freely negotiate a settlement at any point during litigation, and if reached, the process stops.

Step 4: Schedule and attend mediation, which is an informal settlement conference. A third party neutral mediator picked by the lawyers attempts to facilitate a settlement. Generally each spouse/attorney pair is in a separate room and the mediator goes back and forth to help the parties reach a settlement. If a settlement is reached, Steps 5 and 6 become unnecessary. Occasionally, multiple mediations are needed.

Step 5: Pre-trial preparation. Updated discovery and/or additional discovery is done before trial.

Step 6: Attend a trial where both parties testify, along with any relevant witnesses. Documents and proof of assets and debts are introduced. Attorneys make arguments and the Judge renders a decision.

There is a lot at stake with a divorce, don’t make the mistake of trying to handle it on your own. Contact a Knoxville Tennessee divorce attorney to discuss your situation and your options.

Knoxville Family Law Attorney