The Litigation Process is a necessary remedy in certain instances of emergency or for other legal strategy. Litigation begins with a filing of a Complaint for Divorce or other motion for relief. Although Ohio is often described as a “no-fault” divorce state, the Complaint for Divorce must allege grounds for divorce. It is common in the greater Cincinnati area for Complaints to state grounds of “Incompatibility.” However, in order to proceed on grounds of incompatibility, the Defendant cannot deny that the parties are incompatible. Therefore, you will often see a secondary ground alleged, such as “Gross Neglect of Duty” or “Extreme Cruelty.” These allegations sound much scarier than they really are. In most cases, the grounds are of little consequence overall.
Initiating a Case
After a Complaint for Divorce has been filed, the Court may impose temporary orders if requested by either party. These orders can be made with respect to temporary custody, temporary parenting time, temporary spousal and child support, temporary payment of household expenses and/or marital obligations, or other issues. It is essential to speak with counsel or respond to requests to temporary orders quickly as deadlines are in place such relief.
The attorneys will likely engage in the discovery process and attempts of settlement. It is required by the Court that each party make a full disclosure of all assets and liabilities and exchange certain documentation. Additionally, attorneys will engage in discovery of their own by issuing Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and/or Admissions. Attorneys may also issue subpoenas and take depositions of the parties and key witnesses to obtain relevant information. This “formal” discovery is overseen by the Court and can often take many months to complete.
What happens when case is pending?
It is not uncommon for various motions to be filed and/or heard during the divorce process to resolve or address temporary disputes/needs as they arise concerning, parenting, support, access to property, or safety concerns.
Is settlement possible?
At any time in the process it is likely that one or both parties will make at least one settlement proposal. Additionally, parties may often participate in settlement conferences, in which parties and attorneys meet to discuss settlement options. The parties may also engage in a mediation process to reach a full solution or as a last effort to resolve the case before trial. Most of the local Courts in the Greater Cincinnati Area also have excellent dispute resolution tools available to their litigants. These include mediation, the Early Neutral Evaluation Process, Parenting Investigations, Guardians Ad Litem, and Parenting Coordination. We can guide you through these processes and advise which may be important to employ during the process of your case, including the benefits and risks or each option.
Going to Court/Trial
In the event all of the various dispute resolution attempts fail, it may be necessary to prepare for trial. The judge or magistrate assigned to your case is then taxed with determining all of the matters affecting your family, finances, and future. You or your attorney will need to be prepared to present evidence, including testimony of witnesses, exhibits, and legal arguments for your position. The Court will typically take this evidence under advisement and issue a written decision. After the trial level, there may be an objections and/or an appellate process initiated by either party. Most divorce cases are able to reach a settlement on most or all issues prior to reaching this step. However, it is important that you have an experienced attorney guide you through all aspects of your case and determine the best strategy to obtain an optimal result.