I have hired Modern Law, what happens next?
Congratulations! You have hired Modern Law to help with your divorce or family law case. Wondering what happens next? This article is designed to give you an idea of what to expect in the upcoming weeks and months as we prepare and resolve your legal matters. While each case is different, and we may tackle your case in a unique manner or out of order, here are some things to consider and prepare for.
The Initial Documents (First Month Following Consult)
You will receive an email questionnaire requesting your general information. This will allow us to begin drafting your petition or response. Typically, each case begins with the drafts of these initial documents, which may or may not include a request for temporary orders. After we receive your responses to the questionnaire and any documents that have been previously filed, we will work on getting you a draft of your documents. Typically, we deliver these to you within two weeks of your initial appointment and file the documents no later than three weeks after your initial appointment. Sometimes, we rush to file documents immediately, and other times, for instance if we are waiting on out of state orders to register, it can take much longer.
Discovery/Disclosure/AFI (Month 2-4)
Roughly two weeks after filing the initial documents, we will set up our next major milestone meeting. This meeting is typically in office and can last up to two hours. During this meeting, we work on getting into the nitty gritty of your case. We will go over all relevant documents and materials that we will need for your case, both from you and the opposing party. We will go through the rule 49 disclosure chart and the mandatory disclosures required under Rule 49, which you can learn more about here and here.
We will determine which discovery tools we need to serve upon the opposing party and begin our disclosure statement. We can also tackle completing your Affidavit of Financial Information. If we are filing a modification, we likely already put together and filed your Affidavit of Financial Information. An AFI is required in all cases involving spousal maintenance, child support or a request for attorneys fees. It is a difficult document to compile accurately. You will want to spend some time thinking about your household budget prior to filling out the AFI.
We want to get started early on disclosure and discovery issues, because gathering this information is necessary to resolve your case. If we can’t get what we need from the opposing party via a letter, we will then serve actual discovery requests. The opposing party has 40 days to answer. We will then follow up and request the information again. In the event they haven’t provided what we need, we may need to file a motion to compel or subpoena the documents directly from third parties like banks or other financial institutions.
Think about who has the information. If possible, bring bank, retirement and credit card statements or user names and passwords to this meeting. To be fully prepared for this meeting and this portion of your case, think about what evidence you can use to prove your position on the issues below:
- Criminal History or Addiction Records.
- Proof of extraordinary expenses or diagnoses for special needs.
- Criminal history or records for extended family or roommates.
- Which institutions house the retirement assets?
- Titles and purchase documents for any real property.
- Statements for accounts upon the date of the marriage.
- Inheritance documents.
- Relevant Medical Records.
- W2s, Tax Returns, work history.
- Marriage license (if covenant marriage)
- Operating Agreements for any businesses owned by the two of your.
- Names of all of the accounts or financials institutions.
- Life insurance policies or stocks/bonds.
- A pre-nup or post nup.
- Documents related to any pending lawsuit.
Research of Legal Issues/ ID of any needed experts (Month 3-5)
Once we have gathered all of the documents and identified all of the issues, we will determine if there is any legal research that needs to be done or experts that need to be hired to firm up our positions. For instance, if the parties own a business, we almost always need a business valuation before determining the value of the asset and how it will be divided. Likewise, if we have serious concerns about the mental or emotional stability of the other parent, we will want the in put of a third party professional regarding designing an appropriate parenting plan.
This is a completely custom step that will be designed to meet your needs and the needs of your case. Sometimes, no research or experts are needed and we can immediately move on to the next step.
Settlement Negotiations (Months 2-6)
Once we have determined our positions and supported those positions with evidence, we should be able to work on settling your case. This is ALWAYS our goal, as it saves time and money and usually produces a better result than rolling the dice with the Judge. When we have solid positions backed by the law and the evidence it becomes much easier for us to push through a settlement. Especially when the opposing party and/or attorney are reasonable and easy to work with. When they are not, it can really increase both the cost and the time involved. One of the things that we do from day 1 is to create a paper-trail of how reasonable and accommodating we are. We start early and often laying the groundwork for why you should be reimbursed attorneys fees if the opposing party is non-compliant or unreasonable throughout your case.
Trial Prep and Trial (Months 9-12)
In the event we cannot settle your case, we prepare for trial. The good news is, because of all of the ground work that has been laid, we are fully prepared to show the court why you should be granted what you are asking for. During this phase, we will meet with you and all other witnesses to go through your testimony, your exhibits, and the questions that we will ask on cross examination. We will prepare a thorough and complete pre-trial statement that clearly tells the court what your position is and why it is the legally superior position. We can expect the decree within 60 days of trial.