Contested Cases – When There is No Agreement
The good news is that most divorce and family law cases settle and are resolved without the need for litigation and/or trial. Regrettably, that is not true for every case.
Despite the best efforts of the parties and/or their attorneys, there are times when cases need to proceed to court for hearing or trial to resolve either some or all of the disputed issues. It could be that the parties simply have a good-faith disagreement about how to resolve one or more disputes, or it could be that one of the parties is acting in such a way that immediate court intervention is needed. Court intervention can take several different forms, including emergency “ex-parte” orders, interim orders pending trial, and permanent orders after trial and/or evidentiary hearings.
If your case is contested, we do our best to try to reach agreement on as many of the issues as possible, minimizing the number of disputes that absolutely must be litigated. After all, if seven out of ten issues can be settled, then why spend valuable time and money in trial on ten issues when only three of them need to be tried? Couples might sometimes begin the process of a contested case, and then, before the actual court hearing or trial, reach agreement on all of the issues, financial or otherwise. Other times, couples may find that there is simply no middle ground or room for agreement, leaving no option but to seek redress from the court.
The Option of Last Resort
Court hearings and trials should be the option of last resort, in part because the costs can be much higher than to settle a case. Preparation for hearings and trial by an attorney — including the need to file or respond to motions, propound and/or respond to discovery or subpoenas, depose witnesses, prepare clients for their testimony and appearance, draft legal briefs, gather evidence and assemble exhibits, prepare opening and closing arguments, and plan for cross-examination — can be quite time-consuming.
On the other hand, the family law judicial system exists for those cases when court intervention is necessary for moving forward and resolving the case. When going to court is inevitable, you want an attorney by your side with years of litigation experience to guide you through the process and to help you present your best case possible to the court.
Contested cases are billed at our regular hourly rates. We charge a reasonable retainer to get started that is discussed with the client at the outset of the matter, which may vary from case to case, and from client to client, depending on the legal issues presented and the anticipated work that must be done. Your case might be resolved with a simple motion and a single court appearance, or it might require a complex trial across several days on multiple issues requiring numerous witnesses, experts and evidence presentation.
Contact us or call (925) 465-2500 or (707) 398-6008 for more information about your particular circumstances or to schedule an initial consultation at Sparks Family Law, Inc. with attorney Gary D. Sparks.