Monday, March 26, 2012

I Filed for Divorce: NOW WHAT!?!

Once you have filed your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and your spouse has received notice that the divorce has been filed, it is often helpful for the parties to establish the “ground rules” which will govern certain aspects of their conduct during the pendency of the divorce.  Issues that should be addressed are custody of the children, parenting time, possession of the marital residence, and payment of marital expenses.  These issues are referred to as “provisional issues.”  

If you believe that such ground rules are needed, a provisional hearing (also referred to as a “preliminary hearing”) should be requested in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  Once you request the provisional hearing, the court will schedule the matter to be heard and notify each party (or their attorneys) of the hearing date.  Typically provisional hearings are very short and can last anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes, though there are instances where a longer hearing is needed.  Due to these time constraints, it is often beneficial for the parties to reach an agreement on all provisional issues.  If an agreement can be reached, the terms are reduced to writing and submitted to the court for approval.  There are a number of benefits to reaching an agreement rather than going to court, including: crafting terms of an agreement to meet your families’ needs; saving the expenses associated with preparing and attending a hearing; setting and/or maintaining an amicable relationship between the divorcing parties; and reducing the stress and anxiety a hearing can cause.

In the event that you and your spouse cannot resolve the temporary issues, you will be required to attend the provisional hearing.  This can be a particularly important part of the divorce proceeding.  Parties would be well advised to use the preliminary hearing as a forum to position arguments that will be made at the final hearing.  However, it is important to realize that due to the fact that the hearings are often very short, the parties are often the only witnesses and their testimony will be limited to basic matters.  Therefore, discussing and preparing your requests with your attorney prior to the hearing is imperative.  Following the provisional hearing, the judge will issue a provisional order that will typically remain in effect until your case is resolved.   Often times, the order is provided at the conclusion of the hearing.  At some point after the preliminary hearing, the parties will typically enter into negotiations on a final settlement, and if a settlement cannot be reached, prepare for the final hearing.

At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law concerns contact our firm at 317-DIVORCE or visit our website at

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