Where there is disagreement between the parties that cannot be informally settled, the Respondent must be formally notified that suit has been filed and s/he must respond. Service of a summons may be made by certified mail, by sheriff, by private process server, or as a last resort, by publication. Where there is no service, there is no lawsuit.
In the rare case where there is service but no response from the Respondent, a divorce may be granted by default. The Court will require, just as in other divorces, that the judgment it grants is fair to both parties.
In appropriate cases, a temporary order is sought to provide, during the time the lawsuit is in progress, for support, custody, and attorney fees; possession of specified property; payment of particular bills; and restraint of certain conduct. A Court appearance by Petitioner and attorney is necessary at a hearing on a request for a temporary order unless Respondent agrees to all of the requests for temporary relief and signs off on a proposed Temporary Order.
After the Respondent obtains an attorney and files an answer contesting the petition, the case will go to trial usually several months in the future. In the interim, discovery is conducted by both sides to obtain pertinent information about finances, witnesses, etc. This may involve written interrogatories requesting answers, providing documents, and/or sworn testimony taken at depositions. Considerable additional cost is incurred for a deposition, as is also the case for the use of expert witnesses at trial. Depending upon the county and the particular Judge, there may be a pre-trial conference or a resolution conference held prior to trial.
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