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Divorce Papers Have Been Filed, Now What?: Preliminary Stage

In our last blog post, we dealt with the Beginning Stage, which entailed the initial shock of what just occurred and the need to get, and be, prepared. The Preliminary ("Prelim") Stage" is the "What's next" transition of the case. Those two little words will be asked and thought by you a lot during your divorce proceeding. You will be wondering what you do next, what your attorney will be doing next, when will the Court do something next, and what your soon to be ex-spouse may be planning next, it becomes overwhelming.

The Prelim Stage handles the temporary areas of the divorce. The focus during this time is attorneys and Court want to try to keep your family's life as close to normal as possible, or keep the status quo (as referred to by the attorney and court). What I mean is, the Courts want to keep children in their same school, daycare, experiencing, as close as possible, their same daily routines. Or allowing a party keeps the car they have always used during the marriage, marital bills are being paid, marital property is not being sold or destroyed, martial debt is put on hold (joint credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) and the marital pot lid is firmly closed for now. This insures that the status of your martial estate at the time the divorce was filed does not drastically change.

After the divorce is filed, things will either move real quick or real slow and this all depends on the facts of your case. One of the first things your attorney may mention is the need to request a preliminary, provisional, or temporary hearing - it is all the same thing just a different word. This preliminary hearing is typically 30-minutes and your Court will only want to hear if there are any concerning issues that need to be immediately addressed (i.e. abuse of a child or spouse, who will pay what marital bills, who will reside in the marital residence, parenting time, custody, child support), but the important thing to take away from this hearing is any order the Court issues during this time is only TEMPORARY. It is to have no effect on the final order the Court issues and it's only purpose is to try to keep things as they were before the divorce case was filed or to address issues of grave concern. A preliminary hearing is not a final decision or a prediction of what is to come, it is just a way to have temporary orders set during this stage to ensure things stay...status quo during the proceeding. A 30-minute or even a 60-minute hearing only gives the Court a snapshot of the marriage.

One of the biggest headaches you may experience during this time is the waiting game. A preliminary hearing may take 30 to 60 days before it takes place. And while this time will feel like it is far away, I promise you this is fast; however, it will leave you time to ponder, "what's next?" and that will be discussed next week.


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