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The Trial Process

While each case is different, the usual case that becomes a lawsuit involving marital property, custody and child support, and perhaps alimony, takes about a year if it is tried in court. At least, that is the goal of family court. There are several phases of litigation.

In North Carolina, a document called a complaint generates the lawsuit. Once it is filed and served on the other party, he or she will generally have 30 days to file an answer and any counterclaims. If he or she files a request at the courthouse for additional time within the thirty day period, the court will permit additional time. The party who filed the complaint will then generally have up to 60 days to file a reply to the counterclaims, assuming an extension of time was filed.

The court requires child custody mediation in all custody cases, which often leads to a custody agreement. Court hearings for temporary matters, such as temporary child support, are usually scheduled for a date that falls 2 or 3 months after the date the complaint is filed.

Next is family financial mediation, which the court requires before any hearings on permanent relief are scheduled to be tried by a judge in the courtroom. If the case is not resolved by mediation, there are many strategic things that can take time, such as depositions, appraisals and discovery. The trial itself will often take several days, and after that, the entry of the order may take a month or two.


The Life Span of a Typical Case in Pitt County
Why Does Court Take So Long?
The Trial: A Chaotic Experience
Alternatives to Court 

Getting Attorney’s Fees

Court Orders:

The Spirit of the Law: Enforcing Orders in Family Law Cases
Is Your Custody Order Out of Date?
Order in the Court: The Nuts and Bolts of Court Orders
How a Contract Becomes a Court Order: Incorporation
Ex Parte Orders: When Will I Have My Day in Court?
Contempt of Court in NC

Privacy Rights:

Is Your Life an Open Book? Protective Orders
Is Your Life an Open Book? Quashing Subpoenas
Can My Spouse Spill the Beans in Court? Spousal Privilege in NC Civil Cases
Can We Close the Courtroom When I Testify?
Medical Records in Family Law Cases

Get the Most out of Your Attorney:

Working With Your Attorney


Two’s Company and Three’s a Crowd: Third Parties in Family Law Cases
Appeals: Going Through Your Case With a Fine Tooth Comb
Pleading the Fifth Amendment
How Do We Serve My Ex if We Can’t Find My Ex?
Hired Guns: Expert Witnesses
Anatomy of Subpoenas
About Depositions
Discovery – Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents

Should You Settle or Let the Judge Decide?

Hiring a Family Law Attorney

Your Case & the Cutting Room Floor: Too Much of a Good Thing?



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