You most likely associate the word “litigation” with nasty court room battles at a great expense. In some instances that is the case, however, “litigation” does not always have to be an expensive battle. In its simplest form, litigation is the process of taking legal action. Whether you choose mediation, collaborative, litigation, or alternative dispute resolution divorce models, you must take legal action against your spouse, which means a Marshal serves your spouse with the Summons, Complaint, and Automatic Orders, and then you file those documents with the Court. The differences between the various models hinge on what course you and your spouse decide to take after the action is filed with the Court. Sometimes you do not have a choice based on your spouse’s actions, and the default model is litigation. Irrespective of the model, you and your spouse must still resolve the same issues including legal custody, physical custody, alimony, child support, housing, division of bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts, and the division of personal property.
“Do I have to go to Trial?” It is a question that family law attorneys who practice in Westport, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Stamford are often asked by their clients. The answer is, “No”! When the parties to a divorce action are able to reach a settlement of all custody and financial issues, a formal Separation Agreement is drafted. The case is then scheduled for an Uncontested Divorce Hearing.
An Uncontested Divorce Hearing takes place at the Courthouse in the same type of courtroom in which a Trial would occur. The courtroom is open to the public, which means that depending on how busy the day is, there will likely be other people (litigants, attorneys) sitting in the Courtroom as they wait for their own matter to be heard. At the beginning of the Uncontested Divorce Hearing, the Plaintiff’s attorney will ask the Plaintiff to provide the parties’ background information to the Judge, such as the date of marriage, location of marriage, maiden name, length of residency in Connecticut, and the names and ages of any children of the marriage. These questions are asked in order to make sure that the Judge has appropriate jurisdiction to grant a divorce.
Next, the Judge will review the Separation Agreement. This is typically done by having the Plaintiff’s attorney review the salient points of the Agreement with the Plaintiff. The Agreement is reviewed before the Judge for a few reasons: