What to Expect
If you are going through a contested family matter, you are likely experiencing a lot of emotions. These emotions often range from anxiety to anger or depression, Lisa Baker Canterberry, Attorney At Law understands all of this and has experienced divorce with children involved herself. Our firm will always suggest you take care of yourself during this trying time and invest in understanding that what you are going to experience so you may become more confident throughout the process.
The Court Process
While each case we handle is as unique as the parties involved, there are a few common steps you can expect to go through during your court proceeding.
These steps are:
- The initial pleading is filed with the courts. This will either be an Original Petition for Divorce, Petition to Modify, or Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship and will be dependent on your specific court case. If physical violence has been a part of your marriage in the past 2 years, we will additionally file for a protective order. Please note that you can choose to do this free of charge through the District Attorney’s Office in your area. But only if you have not already filed for divorce.
- If there are children involved and you need immediate help from the courts in either establishing child support or possession of your children while the case is pending, we will file a Motion for Temporary Orders with the original petition. The hearing will be set on this matter usually within a month, based on the court’s schedule.
The courts must have proof that your spouse knows of the current pleadings
filed. This can be accomplished in
- Your spouse is served with the documents through a private process server of our choice.
- Your spouse may file an answer with the courts, which presumes your spouse knows of your filing.
- Your spouse signs a Waiver of Service before a notary, stating he or she is aware of the filing.
- If temporary orders have been requested, we will help you prepare and present evidence in a hearing of your needs. Either you and your spouse will resolve your differences prior to the hearing, or the court will make the decisions on your behalf.
- After the temporary orders have been entered, we will discuss your marital estate and spouse’s activities. We will prepare discovery requests and help you obtain copies of documents you wish to see to help prove your case.
- After discovery, we will attempt to come to a final agreement with your spouse on how your children will be cared for and how property will be divided. The final terms of the case will be contained in a Final Decree of Divorce, Orders Modifying Parent-Child Relationship, or Order in Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship.
If your case is agreed upon, it may be final immediately in the case of a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship or Modification, or as early as 61 days from the date it is filed for a divorce. If either of you disagree with the other and insist on a court’s decision, the case could last as long as a couple of years. The average amount of time it takes for a case to conclude is between 6 and 9 months.
Advice to Keep in Mind
- Eat well-balanced nutritional meals, sleep at least 7 hours per night, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day to keep your body and mind in the best condition to handle any stress you are experiencing.
- Your children will benefit from counseling.
- Do not say negative things about your spouse in front of your children.
- If you drink alcohol recreationally or take drugs, please stop ASAP.
- If you are going through a divorce, do not become involved with another romantic interest.
- Make copies of all important documents and store them in a safe place. This includes bank statements, credit card statements, passports, and tax returns.
- The time a spouse is most likely to become physically violent is at the beginning of a divorce. If physical abuse or the threat of abuse has been a part of your relationship, please make sure you have a safe location to stay.