Often, married couples that are divorcing want to make the process as quick and painless (and inexpensive) as possible. They have come to some sort of agreement as to division of real and personal property, alimony amounts (if any), who they want to be the residential parent, and so on. But, just as frequently, divorcing couples cannot come to an agreement as to one or more of the above issues. In the latter case, this would be a contested divorce. When the divorce is contested, attorneys first work to resolve these issues by way of settlement in order to avoid a trial.
However, many times couples are so at odds with one another that nothing is negotiable and a trial is the only way that a resolution to one of the common issues can be reached. The trial is not unlike a criminal trial in that witnesses will be called to present testimonial evidence and documents will entered as exhibits to prove whatever the party introducing the evidence wants to prove (e.g., that a retirement account or home should not be considered maritial property).
Because a contested divorce can go to trial, one must be cognizant of how many courts differ in the trial process. In short, trial processes are very county-specific and it is important to be familiar with the Court’s local rules and customary practices. Some counties require several “pre-trials” beforehand and ask for several formal statements to be submitted to the court and filed with the Clerk of Courts ahead of the pre-trial or trial date. Some courts require the parties to submit to mediation before a trial is finally conducted, while other counties do not provide a mediation program for Domestic Relations matters at all. In other words, A divorce action in Greene County, Ohio can differ dramatically from a divorce action in Montgomery County, Miami County, Warren County or Butler County, Ohio. Familiarity with the judges and the court-specific rules can really help divorcing couples avoid a long and protracted divorce action and help make the entire process easier to meander through and more cost-effective for all involved.