Every case is different, that can never be stressed enough. The procedures listed on this page are the general steps that take place. Some of these steps are necessary to assist and prepare a case, while other steps are requirements by the Court and must take place to advance through the legal system.
Your case may not need every step or may require every step. If you ever have any questions about the procedures, do not hesitate to ask your attorney.
DURING A CASE
ENTERING APPEARANCE: After you have retained Attorney Jameson, our Office will enter and file her Appearance in your case with the Court. This notifies the Court and the opposing side you are represented by an attorney. After entering an Appearance, all notices, filings, orders, and communication will go through your attorney, the Court, and the opposing side/counsel.
INITIAL FILINGS: To start a case a party must file initial paperwork, which may consist of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Petition to Establish Paternity, Motion for Modification of Custody, Parenting Time, Child Support or all three, or Petition for Contempt Citation. All of these filings must be signed by the client, under oath. These documents notify the Court and the other party what you are seeking from the legal system. A filing is not an order. If the opposing party filed any of these documents and you are the recipient of their filings, you may feel as is they were not truthful in their statement. Please know attorneys and Courts are know pleadings may not always contain the truth and we do not take them to be truthful. Our Office expects our clients to be truthful with us and every document we file on their behalf. This ensures no perjury is committed by our clients and allows us to effectively protect our clients' interests.
PREPARE YOUR PAPERWORK: During the entirety of your case, you will be required to keep, gather, and provide paperwork to our Office, the opposing side, the Courts, and possibly third parties (i.e. Guardian ad Litems, Custody Evaluators, Financial Evaluators). You will more than likely have to complete a financial declaration ("fin dec"). All of the paperwork you will possibly gather and a link to a financial declaration are provided on our Resources page.
DRAFT & PREPARE DISCOVERY: Discovery is a very necessary and very vital part to all legal cases. It is a way to gather information from the other party that we may not be able to obtain. Our office will draft and send discovery to the opposing party. Discovery is questions they must answers and requests for them to produce documents to our Office. You will also receive discovery from their attorney, which you will be expected to fully cooperate in and complete. We have learned this process is very confusing and frustrating to most clients. The Law Office of Donna Jameson takes great pride in how they assist their clients during the discovery process and we strive to make sure you understand what is needed from you and you are compliant with all requests.
PRELIMINARY HEARING: Preliminary basically means temporary. A preliminary hearing is the first hearing that will take place during your case, when requested. If one is requested, depending on which Court your case is being heard, a hearing is set within 45 to 60 days and is on average only 15 to 30 minutes long. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to issue a temporary order on keeping things status quo, such as custody, parenting time, payment of marital bills/debts, who will reside in the residence, and child support.
PRELIMINARY ORDER: A preliminary order will be issued following the hearing. It is typically ordered a week or so after the hearing takes place, unless an immediate determination is needed. Again, this is a temporary order to keep things peaceful pending the resolution of your case.
MEDIATION: Most counties require mediation to take place before a final hearing can take place. Mediation must take place and cannot be waived. Mediation is very important as you get a change to actually control the outcome of your case, if you're willing to try. At mediation each party is in a separate room with their attorney and the mediator goes between the rooms trying to assist the parties in reaching a final agreement. During mediation you may be able to end any conflict or hurt plaguing your life and your families' life. At mediation you are able to make the decisions that will effect your family and not leave it in the hands of the Court and third parties.
THIRD PARTY DISCOVERY: Is when attorneys send discovery to employers, schools, medical providers, financial companies, DCS/CPS, counselors, and the similar. The third party will have to produce documents being requested of them. This process assists our Office in making sure we have all of the information, the correct information, and to determine if the other party has been untruthful.
SUPPLEMENTAL DISCOVERY: If you were severed discovery to complete by the opposing side, you will be required to supplement additional information and documents which may have changed during the pendency of your case prior to the final hearing.
FINAL HEARING: Depending on the facts of the case, cooperation by opposing party, and which Court your case is being heard most final hearings take place about 6 to 12 months out, or longer. This is due to the legal system being highly congested with cases. A final hearing is when the Court will hear all evidence relevant to the case. It will hear testimony from the parties and witnesses, review evidence, and review filings. A final order is never given at the end of a hearing, but will be issued at a later time. A Court has 90 days to issue a final order. Once a final hearing is completed, no further information can be presented to the Court while it is making a determination.