Author: mpontrelli

How to Recognize What You Cannot Control in the Divorce Process

Going through the divorce process can be frustrating, especially when you feel like the other side is taking positions or engaging in behaviors that fuel rather than resolve current issues. In addition, co-parenting with an ex-spouse after the divorce may also raise concerns. Although there are many ways in which your legal team can support you during your divorce, there are also things your legal team will not be able to accomplish. Understanding what is beyond the control of you or your legal team is helpful. Here are a few of the things your legal team cannot control. Force the other parent to exercise their parenting time. Your legal team cannot force a parent to exercise parenting time. However, be mindful that a chronic neglect of parenting time may be a basis for modifying your parenting plan. Tell your attorney if the other parent is repeatedly failing to exercise their parenting time. Force the other party to respond to a settlement proposal. Your attorney may send proposals or make requests to opposing counsel; however, there is no duty to respond. After repeated follow-ups without a response, it may be clear no response is coming. At that time, your attorney will decide whether the issues merit court action. Both parties must agree on all terms for a case to be settled without a trial. If one party wants to proceed...

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You have just been asked to appear at a deposition in your divorce case, now what?

It is natural to feel anxious about having your deposition taken in your divorce case. You may feel like your spouse’s lawyer is going to attempt to trap you into saying something that will hurt your case, or word things in a way that you answer the question incorrectly. However, understanding the deposition process can help ease some of the anxiety. A deposition is when you are asked a series of questions before a court reporter by the opposing attorney. The questions and your answers will be typed by the court reporter into a transcript that you will later be asked to read and sign. The purpose of the deposition is to gather information, assess you as a witness, and to commit you to certain positions in advance of trial. However, it is also an opportunity for you to assess the questioning techniques of your spouse’s lawyer, determine the questions that you will likely be asked at trial, and a chance for you to practice what it will be like at the time of trial. The following suggestions will help you to give a successful deposition: Prepare for your deposition by reviewing and providing necessary documents and talking with your lawyer. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. Eat something before you arrive since depositions can go for several hours. Arrive early for your deposition so that you...

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Are my medical records private in a divorce action?

Some of the most private information about you is often contained in your medical records. However, medical records often become a contention in divorce. You may be asked to sign a release so the medical provider can produce your medical records to your spouse. The question then becomes whether the records are relevant to any issue in dispute. If you are requesting spousal support and are claiming you cannot work because of your medical condition, then your medical records may be relevant to show whether your medical condition prohibits you from working. In such a case the Court will probably require you to sign a release so the medical provider can produce your records. Similarly, if parenting time is in dispute and you or your spouse are claiming that a medical condition affects the ability to parent, then medical records may be relevant. If either parent has seen a counselor or is in therapy, mental health records may also be relevant. Talk with your lawyer about your rights. There are a number of options that may be available to keep or prevent the disclosure of your information. If the records are not relevant to any issue and are just being requested to harass you, then your lawyer may be able to obtain a protective order so that the records do not have to be disclosed, or disclosure is limited....

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Do I need to respond to discovery requests in my divorce?

You have just filed for a divorce, and within a few days, the opposing party has sent a list of documents that you need to produce going back several years, and something called interrogatories asking a lot of questions that your spouse should already know. You call your lawyer and ask “Do I really have to respond to these?” And the answer is yes. Discovery is one of the least talked about steps in divorce, but it is often among the most important. Discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit during which each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party. The purpose of discovery is to ensure that both you and your spouse have access to the same information. In this way, you can either negotiate a fair agreement or have all of the facts and documents to present to the judge at trial. The discovery process enables you and your spouse to meet on a more level playing field when it comes to settling your case or taking it to trial. You and your spouse both need the same information if you hope to reach agreement on any of the issues in your divorce. Similarly, a judge must know all of the facts to make a fair decision. The discovery process may seem tedious at times because of the need to obtain and to provide lots...

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How to Prepare for the Emotional Experience of a Divorce Trial

While many people are anxious to finalize their divorce, if it cannot be settled amicably out of court, the thought of going to trial can be petrifying. Concerns about the court process and how to prepare for the trial emotionally are not unusual. Many people have never been in a courtroom, and their entire understanding of trial is based on what they have seen on television, or heard from friends. While a divorce trial can be a highly emotional time, if your divorce case is going to trial, here are a few ideas that may help you through the process: Meet with your lawyer in advance of your court date to prepare you for court and the order of the trial testimony. Ask your lawyer whether there are any documents you should review in preparation for court, such as your deposition. Visit the courtroom in advance to get comfortable with the surroundings. Ask your lawyer about having a support person with you on your court date. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen and consider what options you would have if it did. Avoid alcohol, eat healthfully, exercise, and have plenty of rest during the period of time leading up to the court date. Each of these will help you to prepare for the emotions of the day. Plan what you intend to wear in advance....

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The DW Family Law Blog Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.