Whereas “Mediation” is often resolved outside the confines of a courtroom with a neutral third-party, “Litigation” is often resolved within the courtroom with an attorney advocating for you before a judge. Litigation requires filing lawsuits, motions, other legal documents, and representing clients in trials and other hearings.
If you need a divorce lawyer to provide litigation services for a divorce or a dispute regarding custody, child support, or property division in the greater Kansas City area in both Missouri and Kansas, trust the family law attorneys at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. Our team of experts has decades of experience handling all family law matters and will handle your case professionally and respectfully.
What Issues are Litigated in Family Law?
Not every issue that arises in a divorce process needs to go to trial, but in some circumstances, they must. Issues that need to be litigated at trial are often a result of a difficult spouse or another party that is not willing to reach an agreement over any of the following:
- Custody and parenting time
- Child support
- Maintenance (alimony)
- Property division
Again, not every family law matter needs to go to trial, but sometimes there is no other option.
The Litigation Process
Each litigation case is unique, however, most include a similar process. Below are some steps in the litigation process you can expect:
Selecting Your Attorney
Prior to filing, you need to gather information and find the right attorney for you. Every attorney is different and you need to find one that you will work well with. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. In fact, it is encouraged to meet multiple attorneys to find the one you feel most comfortable with. In this initial meeting, you will discuss with your attorney which information you need and what steps are necessary prior to filing an action.
Once you gather all of the necessary materials needed and your attorney reviews them, it is time to begin the formal lawsuit process by filing a Petition (or Motion, depending on the type of case). The Petition itself contains the following: demographic information pertaining to the parties, claims against the opposing party, and the legal remedy the movant (you) is seeking. Your attorney will file the Petition (or Motion) with the court and the lawsuit will be underway.
Court cases take time and it is not uncommon for a case to take upwards of a year (or longer) if it is contested. Often times, some matters cannot wait that long. If there are issues that need to be handled quicker, it is best to consider filing a temporary motion. Below are examples of temporary motions that can be filed before a trial:
- Restraining orders
- Temporary orders
- Legal and physical custody orders
- Proprietorship of the marital residence
- Child support matters
- Maintenance (alimony)
- Attorney fees
- Issues about marital assets
Service of Process
Once the petition (or motion) is filed with the court, then the opposing party must be served. In Missouri, a county clerk, sheriff, or another specially appointed individual must serve the opposing party with all required documents.
In Kansas, a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy, or an authorized process server can serve the opposing party with all required documents or you have the option to serve someone via certified mail. If you serve someone via certified mail, you must retain a return receipt in which case the person being served must pick up the papers at the post office.
In both states, you may also choose to serve someone by publication, but this can have an impact on obtaining monetary judgments against the other party.
The next step in the litigation process is the discovery process which is essentially the process of gathering and interchanging all evidence that will be presented during a trial. It allows both parties to be transparent about the evidence they will be sharing with the court before the court date so the Court can make a full and fair ruling (and also so there aren’t any surprises). Examples of discovery include depositions, interrogatories, production of documents, obtaining experts, appraisals, and evaluations.
Custody, visitation, and child support cases can often become complex and parents frequently request to have the details of their existing parenting plans and agreements modified. Whether you’re wanting to completely redo your current agreement or want to request minor adjustments, our team can assist you to get the best possible outcome.
Case Management Conference
Throughout the process, there may be other hearings either by agreement of counsel, by motion of counsel, or that are set by the Court. The most common is a case management conference. A case management conference is a time to meet in court before the actual trial. The conference allows both parties and their attorneys to meet in front of a judge to determine whether or not the lawsuit can be resolved without going to trial or if the judge deems it necessary to go to trial.
Some counties, such as Jackson County, Missouri, automatically schedule Case Management Conferences. Other counties may require the parties to request such a conference.
Settlement Conferences/Mediation/Pretrial/Trial or Hearing
Depending upon the result of the case management conference, you may settle issues in a settlement conference or mediation, or a trial date could be set. If a trial date is set then both parties will be given all information about their trial including pretrial and trial or hearing dates and what they can expect during the actual trial.
Why Choose The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC?
With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.
We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our physical location, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas. If you require a divorce attorney in Lee’s Summit or the surrounding Kansas City area, click the link below to contact us.
Do you have questions regarding a dissolution of marriage, paternity actions, or any other family law matter? Our team is here to help. While we can’t give legal advice over the phone or via the internet, we can schedule a consultation to discuss your family law matter. Call (816) 246-9981 or click the link below to request a consultation today.