Do We Have to Go to Court?

Family Law Attorney Allison Sutton explains when a family law case will and will not go to court.

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Hi, my name is Allison Sutton and I am a family law attorney with Robinson & Henry. Today I wanted to talk about a question that I frequently receive from my clients regarding, you know, whether we have to go to court and try these issues before a judge, or if we can settle them outside of the court room and never have to go in front of a judge.

When You Can Avoid Court

So there are situations where you can resolve everything by paperwork. Usually if there’s an attorney on both sides, or if one party has an attorney, and there’s no children involved in the case, you can usually draft up a separation agreement, file it with the court along with what’s called an affidavit of non-appearance of parties and a proposed decree.

That will enable the court to just review the paperwork, sign off on it, and issue a decree. That separation agreement would be incorporated into the decree.

When Would You Have to Go?

Children are Involved

Situations where you cannot just settle everything out of court are when you have a child involved or children and one of the parties is not represented, then you’ll have to, even if you resolve all issues.

You can still file a separation agreement and a parenting plan, but you would have to go in front of the court for an uncontested final orders hearing because the court has some threshold questions that they have to ask to make sure the parenting plan is in the best interests of the children.

The Parties Don’t Agree

Another time when you can’t resolve everything outside of court is if you have any contested issues that you are unable to resolve by agreement prior to the hearing. In that case, even if you have a partial agreement, then you would have to go in front of the court for any issues that remain contested.

So the answer is yes, in some circumstances, you can resolve your case without ever having to go in front of a judge. And in some circumstances you cannot.

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