You've Been Served!

By Cameron Michael McIntosh

The Story of a Poor Man's Journey through a Divorce Lawsuit

This is will be a story of a man who is fragile in his finances, and his wife, having a falling out recently, and the couple deciding to get a divorce. The divorce process does not go as smoothly as one would hope though. As the wife wants more than what is originally bargained in their proposed settlement. The wife wants more money and other miscellaneous things to go along with it. The man does not agree with this, so the wife files a lawsuit and the rest shall be explained below.

Step 1 - Complaint

The wife decides to hire a lawyer, who then files a complaint, once listening to the wife's allegations. A complaint is a formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describes the lawsuit. A plaintiff is someone who brings up the charges against the defendant. The defendant is someone who tries to defend themselves and prove that they did not commit the crime(s) alleged upon them.

Step 2 - Summons

When the court receives this complaint, they will send a summons. A summons is a document, telling the defendant of the suit against him (or her, but it is a male in this case). It also orders him to appear in court on a certain day and time.

Step 3 - Defendant's Turn

The man (husband of wife) decides to hire his own lawyer, with the allegations brought upon him. When his lawyer finally finishes reviewing the case, and after the complaint is filed and summons is sent, he can respond to the charges with a pleadings. A pleadings is the complaint and answer together, but is also a formal statement of the cause of an action or defense.

Step 4 - Pre-Trial Discussions

Now that both sides have made their first moves, the two lawyers go through the phase of preponderance of evidence. This is the phase of both sides (the two lawyers) gathering evidence to help their case. After this phase, pre-trial discussions begin between the judge and both parties. Pre-trial discussions (or can be referred to as pretrial conference) is a meeting where the judge will have both parties meet and try to have a settlement agreed upon. And if there is not agreement reached, then the two parties will prepare to go to trial. The wife and her lawyer meet up with the man and his lawyer, along with the judge to hold the pre-trial discussions. As the discussions progress, they do not seem to be getting closer to an agreement until the wife's lawyer proposes an agreement that is unreasonably fair. The man and his lawyer are outraged and decline the proposed settlement. The parties try to reach mediation, or intervention in a dispute to resolve it, but does not work out. They prepare for trial.

Step 5 - Trial

Since both parties could not work out an agreement, they take their case to trial. Civil trials have the option of having a 6-12 people jury or a lone judge. The judge hears this case alone, and the wife, also the plaintiff, starts off the case by presenting her side (this is generally the lawyer's job). Then, the man or husband, presents his side. Afterwards, the two sides then summarize their cases and gives their final opinion and statement to the judge. After this, the judge makes the final decision on the case. This is also called arbitration, or the hearing of a dispute, to resolve it.

Step 6 - Verdict (Finally!)

The judge makes his final decision on the case, and he determines that the wife, or plaintiff, is right in some of her points that her lawyer made. And these points were significant in the court's eyes. The man/husband would have to pay his wife $2500 in compensation, and she would be able to keep the house and majority of the materials in it. This is also known as the verdict, the final decision or ruling on a case. The husband had the chance to appeal the verdict, and try to avoid the punishment dolled out to him. But he decides to not pursue the case any longer. He pays his wife, and takes what little he had left from his marriage and moves on. 6 months later though, he meets a woman, they start getting to know each other and become good friends; he's happy.