Is your relationship on the rocks? If you feel there’s no way to reconcile with your partner, it may be time to file for divorce. You might be wondering how the divorce procedure works in Nebraska and whether you can settle your case without going to Court. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about getting divorced in Omaha, NE and surrounding areas. We’ll discuss the process and whether it’s smart to settle or go to trial.
In a Divorce, Should I Settle or Go to Trial in Omaha, NE
Step 1 – Find out your Rights – Meet with a Divorce Attorney
Talk with a divorce attorney about the facts of your case. Many attorneys will offer at least a short free phone consultation to see if they can take your case and to give you an idea of where you stand and the merits of your specific situation.
Step 2 – File for Divorce
Once you have a general understanding of the process, it may be time to file. Depending on your situation, the attorney may have you gather some documents or wait for better timing. However, if the timing is right and you are happy with the attorney’s explanation of the process and what you can expect, the next stage is to file for divorce in Nebraska.
To file the divorce action is to file the “Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage” with the Clerk of the Court and there are several additional steps you need to follow. This includes paying the court filing fee and submitting the required statistical documents to file a divorce action.
The attorney gets the ball rolling by filing this paperwork with the court and arranging the serving of the divorce papers on your spouse. If your spouse is being cooperative, it could alternatively include sending a Voluntary Appearance request to your spouse instead of sending the sheriff to serve your spouse.
Step 3 – Preparation
After your divorce action is filed, this is when you get deeper into the details. You provide more detailed documents as to what you own and what you owe. You’ll use this to define your assets, debts, equity, and value more. For example, you might be asked to gather documents related to:
- Your home’s value and the outstanding amount owed on the mortgage.
- Vehicles and the balance due on any car loans or leases.
- Your annual income and credit card debt.
- Values of your retirement and investment accounts.
Step 4 – Hearings and Temporary Support Orders
The divorce process takes time. Except in uncontested cases, there is usually a temporary hearing if you have children or if a party is requesting alimony or spousal support while the divorce action is pending. Your judge may require that you prepare affidavits for the temporary hearing. These affidavits are generally statements that are notarized before being submitted to the Court. The Judge reviews these to determine who should have custody while the case is pending and if one party must pay the other support.
Step 5 – Parenting Class and Mediation
If you have minor children, the court orders both parents to attend a parenting class. Your attorney will provide you with the details to sign up for this class. The class is usually a one-time class and is usually taken online. You don’t have to take the class with the other parent. The class is generally filled with tips about co-parenting and what to expect as part of the divorce process. Additionally, the court will order the parties to attempt mediation of the parenting time issues. The mediation session is between you and your spouse to try to resolve parenting issues in a parenting plan. Further information about the parenting class is on the Nebraska Supreme Court’s website
As with the divorce negotiations, attending mediation may present cost savings to the parents as they can often resolve some or all of their issues regarding child custody and parenting time in mediation.
Step 6 – Discovery
Discovery is a legal term for the part of the divorce process where attorneys exchange client information with each other in legal proceedings. In some situations, it can be done an informal manner to save money if there is some level of trust between the parties. Otherwise, both attorneys make formal requests for financial documents and additional information to work through the legal process. The most common types of formal discovery include Interrogatories and requests for the Production of Documents which must be completed within 30 days of receiving.
Step 7 – Negotiations
Once both parties have a good understanding as to what are the assets and debts and have been advised as to what might be a “fair” settlement, the negotiations begin. Most cases settle without a trial during the negotiation process. This usually includes sending settlement offers back and forth to see if you can reach an agreement. Even cases that start as highly contested usually settle during this phase, even though it might take more back and forth to get there.
Step 8 – Settle or Go to Trial?
Even though most cases settle without a trial, you will likely start gathering evidence early on to prepare for trial if necessary. Having a trial date also helps the parties know when their case will be finalized if they don’t reach an agreement by that date. Often the parties become more willing to compromise as the trial date gets closer.
When you take a case to trial, the Judge won’t usually decide the case that same day. Usually, the case is taken “under advisement” where the judge will often take months to review the evidence and make a decision after the trial date. Thus, even after your trial, you will likely be waiting awhile longer before your divorce is finalized.
Preparing for a trial takes a lot of work for both the attorney and the client. Your attorney will be required to properly prepare your evidence and submit it to the Court prior to the trial date. There are often specific rules as to how your judge wants the exhibits prepared with redacting certain statistical information and adding page numbers. Many judges require additional documents such as pre-trial letters, exhibit lists, witness lists, and proposed orders to be prepared and submitted prior to trial in addition to the actual exhibits. Your attorney will also plan ahead of time as to the questions to ask each witness and will go through your trial testimony with you in some fashion before the trial date. Because of all these things, preparing for a trial is expensive and time-consuming.
As the trial date gets closer, you start to have to look at the cost-benefit analysis of preparing and paying for the trial versus negotiating further. Once the parties get close in negotiations, the attorney fees of the trial may be more than the difference in the dollar amount the parties are fighting about. In that situation, it often makes sense to find some middle ground and settle.
Your mental health has value too. If you are offered a good enough deal, you may decide it isn’t worth your mental health to stress over trial any longer.
Because the Court schedule is often very busy, you will likely wait months for your trial after being given a trial date. You’ll need to take time off of work to prepare for the trial date and to appear in court.
Especially if you have children together, you will likely continue to have your ex in your life for many years to come. If you settle on a fair agreement with your partner, you may have a less rocky relationship down the road.
Overall, settling with your partner often helps finalize your divorce faster, helping you move on with your life instead of wasting time and money on court costs and attorney fees.
However, even when one party wants to settle, sometimes it just makes sense to let the judge decide the case at trial. If your spouse won’t offer you a reasonable settlement, it often makes sense to let the judge decide the case than to accept something that is worse than what the Judge would likely give you. Sometimes you may have no choice but to go to court.
Law Office of Julie Fowler, PC, LLO | Divorce Lawyers Omaha
Child Custody | Child Support | Divorce Lawyers Omaha
If you are looking for an attorney in a child support case or divorce in Omaha, Nebraska, or the surrounding areas (including Papillion, Bellevue, Gretna, Elkhorn, Lincoln, Nebraska City, Sarpy, and Lancaster), contact our office to set up a consultation.