This Week’s Blog by Sarah E. Murray
- Provide requested information and documents promptly
- To the extent possible, make or respond to a settlement offer as early in your case as you and your attorney think is appropriate
- If both parties and their counsel are motivated to get a case done quickly, it can be accomplished
What is the Relationship between Discovery and How Quickly My Connecticut Divorce Case Moves?
Many Connecticut divorce clients from Greenwich to Fairfield want to know what they can do to ensure that their case moves in a timely fashion. For many people, once they have made the difficult decision to get a divorce, they do not want the divorce case itself to move slowly. The timing of Connecticut divorce cases is not always within the control of the client or his or her attorney, but there are certain things that clients can do to ensure that the case moves as quickly as possible.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, one of the things that we encourage clients to do in order to help their case move in a timely fashion is to provide financial discovery to the other side as soon as possible. Some clients even provide financial discovery to the opposing party before he or she requests it. There are standard documents that, under Connecticut Practice Book Section 25-32, are to be exchanged in divorce cases: personal tax returns, tax returns for any business in which a party has an interest, W-2s, 1099s, K-1s, pay stubs and other evidence of income for the current year, bank and brokerage account statements for the past two years, the most recent retirement account statements, the most recent life insurance statement, current health insurance information, information regarding the cost of COBRA following the divorce, and any written appraisals of assets owned by the parties. In cases where the finances are more complicated or where there are specific issues for which a party seeks discovery, the discovery requests are more comprehensive than the preceding list. Top Fairfield County attorneys will provide their clients with comprehensive document requests early in the case, and sometimes at the initial consultation, so that clients know what to expect from opposing counsel and can begin gathering their responsive documents.
Clients who want to move their Fairfield County divorce cases quickly will begin gathering the requested documentation as early as possible so that there is no delay in getting that information to the other side. Under Connecticut rules of practice, parties generally have 60 days to respond to discovery requests, but waiting that entire time to provide discovery will only prolong the case. Failing to provide all of the requested information is another way to ensure that the case takes longer, as the opposing party will then have to request the missing information and will sometimes file a motion to obtain a Court order that it be provided.
When Can My Divorce Case be Settled?
Once discovery is complete (or nearly complete) in a case, many attorneys will discuss with their clients the possibility of settling the case. Settling a divorce case has many advantages, and one of them is that settlements can occur at any time in a case, including in the beginning. Some Fairfield County divorce clients even settle their cases before filing for divorce in order to ensure that the process goes quickly once the case is filed.
Trial dates in divorce cases normally are not scheduled until later in a case, and sometimes not until the case has been pending for almost one year. If a case goes to trial, a judge has 120 days to issue a decision. After the decision is issued, one or both parties can file motions to reargue certain issues or to clarify the decision. Additionally, one or both parties can take an appeal from a trial court decision, which typically takes at least a year to resolve.
Therefore, settling a divorce case well before the trial dates is usually a way to ensure that the case ends in a timely fashion. Issuing a settlement proposal (or responding to one) early on in a case can be an effective way of moving the case toward a final judgment. The case can be settled as soon as you and your attorney think it is appropriate to begin settlement discussions, usually after discovery is exchanged and the necessary information is gathered.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, we understand that many of our clients want their divorce cases to move quickly. The biggest predictor of how quickly a divorce case will move is the parties and their counsel. We find that when both parties and their counsel are motivated to get through a case quickly, it usually will happen. Problems can arise when either the opposing party does not want the divorce to occur quickly, and/or that party’s counsel is not cooperative in efforts to accelerate the case. Both parties do not need to agree on everything in order for their case to move quickly, but both parties do need to be responsive and work with their attorneys to achieve a resolution of the issues. When both parties are working toward the same goal, i.e., early resolution of their case, it can be accomplished.