GENERAL STEPS FOR A CONTESTED DOMESTIC CASE

            Below are some general steps that will generally take place during contested domestic case.  This is provided as a general guideline to help you understand the process.  Each individual case is different and Sherri Kelley will explain the necessary steps in your case.   

            1.         Remember a contested case just means that the parties do not have an agreement as to the distribution of their property, assets, debts or a determination of the custody rights of their children when the action is originally filed. 

            2.         With a contested matter, after the action is filed and the other party is served with the action usually a temporary hearing is set to deal with temporary issues in the case if those exist.  Temporary issues include temporary custody of the children, temporarily who is living in the house, temporary visitation, child support and debt distribution.  Usually a temporary hearing can be scheduled in 60 to 90 days of the filing of the action. 

            3.         The next step is generally a mediation where the parties all sit down together in an attempt with a third party mediator to come to a resolution of the matter.  Mediation is a non‑adversarial process so it is a time for the parties to come together in attempt to resolve the problem without name calling, finger pointing and placing blame.  Mediation is required in almost all counties in domestic related matters and in some counties you cannot even have a hearing until such time as mediation is completed. 

            4.         In a contested matter as well often times after the filing of the service there is a period of discovery.  Discovery is where you are able to get information concerning the assets of parties, the actions of the parties and can include people responding to questions such as interrogatories as well as having to produce documents such as proof of income and other financial accounts.  Depositions can also occur which is where someone is asked questions in front of a court reporter so their sworn testimony is taken down prior to a hearing. 

            5.         If minor children are involved, all parties are required to take a Parenting Class approved by the Court.

            6.         After discovery is completed and the parties have utilized the mediation process, then the case gets set for a final hearing.  In the State of Georgia a divorce can be tried in front of a jury but it is a very rare occurrence.  Most domestic cases are determined by the Judge in what we would call a bench trial.  Custody matters are always decided by the Judge. 

            These are only general steps and in each specific domestic case you will find the different needs to be met and Sherri Kelley is able to meet those needs and help you through the steps in order to resolve your issues for the best interest of you and your children