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#3 - What Happens Next? The Nuts and Bolts of Court

Blog Series: Tips for Getting Through a Divorce

#3 – What Happens Next? The Nuts and Bolts of Divorce Court

Blog Series: Tips for Getting Through a Divorce

by Susan Culpepper, Attorney at Law
Serving the New Orleans, Mississippi Gulf Coast and Jackson, MS communities

Once you have a lawyer on board, you will either become the Plaintiff or Defendant. If you want to start a divorce, you are the Plaintiff. If you have been sued in a divorce, you become the Defendant.

If both of you have been separated for a while, and not really communicating well but both seem to want the divorce, you can ask that your lawyer pick up the phone and call your spouse, or write them a letter with a proposed settlement, asking if they will contact your lawyer to discuss the case. This also can result in a win-win scenario for both parties and keep legal fees at a minimum!

The exception to all of the above, and the best-case scenario, is when you and your spouse have a foundation of friendship and can discuss going your separate ways in an amicable fashion and negotiate terms that are fair and equitable to both parties, keeping the needs of the children first and foremost.

In this scenario, one of you would initiate contact with an attorney, telling him or her that all issues have been agreed upon, and one or both go into the attorney’s office to lay out the custody or property division elements and have papers drawn up so that they can be submitted to the Court and a Final Divorce can be obtained.

If litigation is required, your attorney will obtain a court date and either negotiations will begin, or you will appear before the Judge, who will provide the deadlines for submission of evidence, filings, settlement conferences and trial dates.

Although a brand new experience for you, your family law case will not be your lawyer’s first rodeo. An experienced family law attorney that is sensitive to your needs will make all of the difference in the world for you.

Many lawyers like to keep the suspense and drama going, and unfortunately, keep the fighting going in order to keep you in Court and dependent on them emotionally so that they can charge higher fees.

In extreme cases, lawyers will put on an act in court, ranting and raving, and causing a scene in an effort to intimidate the other party or make them stand out as a “bulldog lawyer.”

If you experience this in your personal lawyer or in an opposing counsel, you can relax and know that the Judge has also heard hundreds if not thousands of divorce cases and will most likely make a decision in a similar way that he or she has done numerous time before, unless your case is very unique.

The positive side of divorce is obtaining mental, spiritual and physical liberation from an albatross that has probably been keeping you from moving forward with your life entirely too long!

If you are reading this, you are obviously thinking of a divorce (or fantasizing about one)! See my next blog in the TIPS FOR GETTING THROUGH A DIVORCE: #4 Fighting Over the Silverware – Learn to Let Go.

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