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Time Line of Divorce/Paternity Cases

1.  Starting the Case.  A Complaint, Confidential Information Sheet, and a Vital Statistics Form must be filed and the case is given a Case Number and Judge assignment.
2.  Service. After the Complaint is filed and a case number is provided, the defendant must be (a) served by the Sheriff; or, (b) file a Voluntary Appearance.
3.  Mandatory Waiting Period. When the defendant is (a) served by the Sheriff; or, (b) the Voluntary Appearance is filed with the Clerk of the District Court’s office, the waiting period is considered started.  Regardless of settlement, the divorce can’t be finalized for 60 days after the court receives proof that the Defendant has been served.
4.  Parenting Class.  If minor children are involved, both parties must attend the “What About the Children” seminar offered through Conciliation Court (or a comparable class is offered throughout the state for counties other than Douglas).  The class is generally 2 hours long.  The cost of the class is $50. You also have the option to attend the class online, which enables you to attend at your convenience.
5.  Custody and Financial Matters during the Divorce. If the parties have not made arrangements regarding custody of minor children or to pay their bills and take care of regular monthly expenses while the case is pending, we can ask the Judge to award temporary spousal support and/or child support at a “temporary hearing”. You must have at least registered to attend a parenting class before you can request a temporary hearing. Whatever terms the parties settle upon for the temporary period or the terms the Judge mandates at a hearing are set forth in writing in a “Temporary Order” (this Order stays in effect until the divorce is finalized). In order to ask the court that spousal support and/or child support be ordered by the Judge, we must complete the following:
  1. Prepare and file a Financial Affidavit (this outlines the current financial positions of the parties);
  2. Prepare and file a Motion for Temporary Allowances;
  3. Obtain a hearing date;
  4. Prepare and file an Affidavit by you and anyone else who has pertinent observations of the issues involving custody (Affidavits are simply a person’s version of the events signed and sworn to be true in the presence of a Notary); and,
  5. The defendant must be served with the Notice of the Temporary Hearing by the sheriff (or any time after the Defendant is served, by mail).
     If child support is being requested, the Child Support Affidavit (a/k/a NE Child Support Guidelines) must also be filed.
6.  Parenting Plan. Following attendance at the parenting class, the parties need to decide whether they want to be assigned a mediator to help them negotiate a the terms of their Parenting Plan which is the custody and parenting time schedule (including holidays and summers) or if they want to attempt to negotiate their own Parenting Plan through their attorneys.  A mediator is a neutral person who is trained to facilitate negotiations between parties and all mediation sessions remain confidential.  All Parenting Plans in Douglas County need to be submitted for approval by Conciliation Court before a trial date will be assigned or before the divorce can be finalized.
7.  Discovery.  As soon as the Temporary Order is entered, we will exchange information regarding the custody of any children and finances.
This exchange of information is done by asking the other party written questions, called Interrogatories (which must be answered under oath) and asking the other party to produce certain all relevant documents, called Requests for Production of Documents. Responses to both Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents are due within 30 days.
If the other party’s Answers to Interrogatories and Responses to Requests for Production of Documents leave important unanswered questions, you have the right to request a deposition be taken of the other party, which involves your attorney asking the other party oral questions under oath while the questions and answers are documented by a court reporter. 
There are other discovery tools that are available and are used in certain circumstances.
8.  Finalization of the Case. The final Order that divorces you (or establishes paternity) will address all of your issues involving your children and finances and is called a Decree.  Once we have all of the information we will to try and predict what the court would do if the matter is tried to the court and we will try to settle the case and avoid the time and expense of trial. 
     a) Settlement.  If all the issues are settled between the parties, the Decree is prepared; both parties sign it and an Affidavit waiving the final hearing, so no one has to go to a hearing. The Decree and Affidavit are submitted for approval and signature of the Judge. Once the Judge signs your Decree, the divorce is final.
      b) Trial.  If your case cannot be settled, we file what is called a “Proposed Scheduling Order,” which tells the Judge we are ready for the matter to be tried.  It may take 3 to 9 months, or longer, to get a trial date depending on the number and complexity of the unresolved issues between the parties.  The more time that is needed for trial, the longer the wait is to be assigned a trial date. Once the matter is tried to the court, the Judge may take several days or weeks to render its decision.
7.  Post Decree Documents.  Following the entry of the Decree, there may be a Quit Claim Deed for one of the parties to sign which transfers ownership of real property from one spouse to the other.  There may also be one or more Qualified Domestic Relations Orders which are Orders that divide retirement accounts between the parties as set forth in the Decree without imposing any tax consequences or penalties on the parties as a regular distribution would.