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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.

Why Does Court Take So Long?

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