Procedures (page 1)
Unlike legal advice, these articles will not help you to directly apply the law to your unique situation. Contact us if you wish to schedule a consult for legal advice.
A Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separation, or Allocation of Parental Responsibility case is initiated by filing a Petition along with other documents with the District Court of the county where the other party lives or works. The other party must sign a waiver of service, or the documents must be served by a process server.
The cost of service of process depends upon the difficulty involved. This cost is eliminated if the person to be served is willing to execute a notarized Waiver and Acceptance of Service. By signing a Waiver and Acceptance of Service the other party agrees to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court. Signing the Waiver and Acceptance of Service does not waive any of that individual's rights. Avoiding formal service by a process server is generally preferred as it is less upsetting, cheaper, and gets the case moving forward on a cooperative footing.
There is more to know about staring your case and we discuss these details with our clients at our initial meeting with them. For example, there are options for when a party cannot be served for some reason and there are specific recommendations for when the other party is out of state. There is information available on the state court self-help website and through the courthouse resource centers. We highly recommend these resources. General information is good to have, but your specific case is unique and obtaining legal advice prior to filing can help you avoid problems down the road. For that reason we suggest you obtain some advice before filing even if you do not ultimately hire an attorney for full representation.
After the Petition and other documents are served, the other party may file a Response within 21 days (or 35 days if that occurs out of state).
A Petition may also be filed jointly by both parties which signals to the Court that the parties are in agreement as to needing a divorce, legal separation, or allocation of parental responsibilities.
Mandatory disclosures of financial information must be completed shortly after the case begins and not later than 42 days from initiation of the case. Most courts prefer they be completed prior to the Initial Status Conference. We will provide you with a separate list of the required disclosures. The list is also available on the state court self-help website. Our paralegals and your attorney will assist you throughout this process. Parties are often surprised by how many financial disclosures are required. The process can be overwhelming without assistance especially if the other party was primarily handling financial matters previously.
The first court date is generally the Initial Status Conference (ISC) and is set by the Court. You will generally find the date of that conference within your Case Management Order or on a separate Notice of Initial Status Conference. It is a mandatory Court appearance and must be attended by the parties.
The next matter on the agenda is to obtain temporary orders to resolve financial issues, temporary parental responsibilities, and parenting time (if those apply in your case). This is done through a hearing before the Court or through negotiation and stipulation. Temporary Orders Hearings occur shortly after the ISC.