How to Move Your Stalled Divorce Case Along
Divorce cases come with any number of possible frustrations, for the parties and the attorneys alike. One of the biggest frustrations for clients (and attorneys) is the length of time it takes to move their case towards a final resolution, through a comprehensive settlement or final hearing. Whether you are just now considering a divorce, or are already in the middle of a stalled divorce proceeding, here are four tips for moving your divorce along:
- Know Your Attorney: The initial consultation with your attorney, as well as follow up conversations and meetings, should give you an idea of your attorney’s personality and overall strategy for your case. Some attorneys are settlement-oriented, while some will think it’s best to litigate every issue that comes up. You should make sure that you have a clear understanding of the strategy your attorney has for your case, and, just as importantly, be sure your input is factored into strategic decisions. If you feel that your case is not proceeding in a timely fashion, raise your concerns with your counsel.
- Know Your Jurisdiction: The progress, or lack thereof, of your divorce case can often vary depending on the jurisdiction in which your case is pending. For example, Fairfax County Circuit Court requires the parties in a contested divorce to attend a scheduling conference to set a trial date. In addition, that court requires the parties to enter and to follow a pre-trial scheduling order, which sets out discovery and other deadlines for a contested divorce case. These requirements often have a way of fostering and encouraging settlement between the parties early on in the case, as the parties must exchange financial documents and other information. Both parties having all of their cards on the table early in the process can often narrow the issues and allow the parties to work towards a comprehensive resolution. In other jurisdictions in Virginia, such requirements do not exist. In those jurisdictions, it is crucial for the attorney and client to be on the same page about ideas and strategies to move the case forward. Setting clear timelines or benchmarks for different parts of your case is often an effective strategy for getting your divorce moving.
- Know Your Options: You should always know your options regarding your case, no matter where it is in the process. Although strategic decisions are often ultimately made by the attorney, a client’s input is key. A divorce typically comes with several choices to be made at various stages of the process, and these decisions can have a direct effect on how long the case will take to conclude. Make sure you ask questions to understand all your alternatives and the possible consequences for each alternative.
- Take Matters Into Your Own Hands: Most parties to a divorce action would prefer to resolve their matter outside of court, through a Marital Settlement Agreement or through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). While the overwhelming majority of divorce cases settle at some point in the process, operating under the assumption that your case will definitely settle can be a mistake. If an opposing party is always late in responding to discovery requests or takes months to respond to a settlement proposal, it may be time to take the case in a different direction. Filing motions or filing a Complaint for Divorce can be a great way to catch the attention of the opposing party and get your case moving.
Livesay & Myers, P.C. has teams of experienced family lawyers in Leesburg, Fairfax, Manassas and Fredericksburg. If you are facing a divorce in Northern Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.