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If one or more issues in a divorce can’t be settled, then the case is considered to be “contested”. A contested divorce must be resolved through the court system, through alternative dispute resolution, or through the collaborative divorce process. Going to court is usually a last resort, and for good reason. Taking a divorce to court means putting all of your unique and complicated circumstances before a busy judge and accepting whatever resolution the judge comes up with. In most circumstances, a litigated settlement results in a less than ideal resolution for both parties. Additionally, litigating a divorce can be much more expensive than settling outside of court.
The Contested Divorce Process
What is ‘no-fault’ divorce?
In Kentucky, people can get divorced without proving fault or misconduct of the other spouse. A spouse can get a divorce simply because he or she no longer wishes to be married. Consequently, it is important for the other spouse to understand the limits on his or her ability to challenge the divorce.
Does filing first give me an advantage?
There are some advantages to being the spouse who petitions for divorce. The filing spouse gets to present his or her case first in court. Additionally, the filing spouse sometimes gets to choose the county that the divorce is filed in. However, rushing to file first may hinder the chance of reconciliation or amicable settlement. It is important to speak with an attorney to discuss the decision to divorce and the possible ramifications of filing.
Where can I file for divorce?
A spouse may file for divorce in any county in which the husband or wife resides. One of the spouses must have lived in Kentucky for 180 days before the divorce is filed.
What do I do if I am served with divorce papers?
Read the papers carefully. You have 20 days to file a response to the divorce petition. It is important to seek an attorney to represent you at this point. If you are served with a restraining order or domestic violence order along with the divorce papers, it is important that you carefully obey every requirement of the order.
When will we go to court?
Usually, the first court appearance will involve temporary orders. If a party cannot agree to issues such as financial support, use of property, control of the marital residence or custody pending the divorce, the judge will issue temporary orders that usually last until the divorce is final.
How long will it take me to get divorced?
If the spouses cannot agree to a settlement, a trial is necessary. It can take months or even more than a year to resolve a divorce through trial. Some counties, including Jefferson County, require the parties go to mediation to attempt to resolve unresolved issues before the court will hold a trial.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential settlement session in which a neutral person trained in dispute resolution meets with the parties and their attorneys and attempts to help them reach an agreement on disputed issues. If no agreement can be reached, nothing discussed at mediation can be used in trial. If a settlement is reached, a settlement agreement is drafted by the mediator and signed by the parties and their attorneys.
Why should I settle out of court?
The majority of divorce cases settle without going to trial. Settling out of court avoids the cost of paying an attorney to prepare the case for trial, avoids the unnecessary delay resulting from the overcrowded court system, and avoids the additional emotional costs that result from becoming adversaries in litigation.
When should I choose to settle?
Settlement should only be considered when the parties have exchanged all pertinent financial information. If there are still questions about property or finances, it is unlikely that an attorney will advise a settlement. Our experienced attorneys will continue to negotiate a settlement throughout the divorce process. If a satisfactory agreement is reached, we prepare a detailed, comprehensive settlement agreement. This agreement will be submitted to the court as part of the divorce resolution.
What happens if the case does not settle?
If a divorce cannot be settled outside of court, the only way to resolve any outstanding issues is by going to trial. In Kentucky, divorce cases are heard before a judge, not a jury. In many counties, divorces are heard before a family law judge that is specially qualified to hear domestic relations cases. If your case must go to trial, it is important to find an attorney that will aggressively pursue the best outcome for you. The attorneys at Barrow Brown will work tirelessly to prepare your case for trial and will try your case with integrity and commitment.
Our Kentucky divorce lawyers proudly represent clients throughout Jefferson and surrounding counties. We are dedicated to providing cost-effective results for our clients. Give us a call at (502) 589-9353 or contact us online to learn about how we can help you.
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