A dissolution of marriage may be either an “uncontested divorce” or a “contested divorce.” In either case, the Petitioner asks the Court for the divorce, and the Respondent receives and answers the Petition.
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the Clerk of Court and sent to the Respondent via service of process. The Respondent is then required to file a written response to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of Court.
When handling an uncontested divorce, Ms. Houser’s clients provide the complete agreement between the parties regarding issues such as equitable distribution, alimony, child support, timesharing, etc. Ms. Houser will review the agreement to ensure the terms of the agreement are accurately articulated. Both spouses are required to complete a Financial Affidavit and, if there are minor children, a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit. Finally, the Petitioner must attend the final divorce hearing.
In a "contested divorce", both spouses cannot or will not agree on the majority of the issues, such as division of marital property, marital debt and/or issues involving minor children from the marriage. After the Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage are served on the Respondent, the Respondent has 20 days to file a written response with the Clerk of Court. Once a written response is filed, the parties will exchange financial discovery, often referred to as mandatory disclosure. When the discovery process is completed, the parties are required to attend mediation. If the parties come to an agreement at mediation, the agreement is signed, the litigation ends and the Petitioner attends the Final Hearing. If the parties do not come to an agreement, the case moves forward to trial.