What To Expect During A Litigated Divorce

While some couples are able to come to amicable terms for a divorce with the help of lawyers, other spouses find that they cannot agree on the division of assets and child custody, which means that the case has to go through litigation in the court system. If you will be going through a litigated divorce, you can expect the following to occur:

Petition for Divorce

Before a divorce can go through litigation, one person must file a petition for divorce with the county court system. The other party named in the divorce petition will be served with papers and have the opportunity to file an answer or a counter petition.

Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase of a court case, lawyers from each side are allowed to request documents and other information from the other party. During a divorce case, the documents requested during the discovery phase typically relate to the couple's financial matters. If you are getting divorced, you should be prepared to locate and submit documentation such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, retirement account statements, proof of property that is jointly owned, and any other documents to relate to your assets. It is very important to be completely honest about all assets that you have, either personally or jointly with your spouse. Failure to properly disclose all assets can result in legal repercussions.


Mediation is an opportunity for both parties and their attorneys to get together with a mediator to discuss the terms of the divorce and try to come to an agreement before going to trial. If mediation is successful, the attorneys will be able to draw up a divorce decree and file it with the courts.


When spouses fail to come to an agreement during mediation, preparation for trial will continue. Typically, both parties will be deposed by their spouse's lawyer. During a deposition you will be under oath and required to honestly answer any questions that your spouse's lawyer has about issues related to the divorce proceedings.

Going to Trial

During a trial for a divorce, each side will argue their case and present evidence and documentation for a judge to review. Each spouse typically testifies before the judge to tell their side of the story. The judge will listen to what issues are contested and then make a decision.After the judge's decision is announced, a final divorce decree will be prepared and signed by the judge. If you are not happy with the terms of the divorce decided by the court, you will have an opportunity to appeal.