One of the most important things to take note of when going through a divorce case pro se or without legal assistance are deadlines. Courts take deadlines very seriously, and the failure to meet them can have serious consequences on a case. More often than not, parties who miss deadlines end up having their cases delayed or dismissed.
The most important deadlines to keep in a divorce pro se case include the responses, financial disclosures, expert reports, discovery and witnesses, and mediation, among others. Here are the deadlines for each:
Whether responding to a petition for dissolution or petition for allocation of parental responsibilities, any motion will have a response deadline of 21 days. In some cases, this response time is shortened, especially if a certain motion is time sensitive and the court issues an order that abbreviates the response time.
16.2/ Financial Disclosures
Financial disclosures in a divorce case should be made 42 days from the date that the petition was filed or the date that the receiving party signed the waiver or personally served.
Expert Reports & Rebuttal Reports
If experts are needed in a divorce case, the parties have to set a date for their appointment. This can either be by agreement of both parties about the deadline of the expert’s appointment or ordered by the court during the initial status conference.
Expert reports are due 56 days before the final hearing. Rebuttal reports are due 21 days after the final hearing.
Discovery and Witness Lists
For witnesses and exhibits to be admitted in the final hearing, the discovery and witness lists should be submitted 63 days before the hearing date. Once the discovery has been served, the parties have 35 days to respond to the discovery.
Mediation is a process where the parties and their lawyers come together to discuss and hopefully resolve the issues in their divorce case. The goal of the mediation is to come into an agreement and propose a settlement instead of going to court and moving forward with the hearing.
The mediation date is usually done about 28 days before the final hearing date.
It’s important for a pro se party in a divorce case to keep track of deadlines and prepare for their hearings in advance. Preparing for a hearing will involve getting their exhibit list together, actual exhibit presentations, preparing the joint trial management certificate, etc. These important documents are typically due seven days before the hearing date.
Parties to a divorce case, especially those who are undergoing the process without legal assistance, need to stay on top of deadlines. Submitting documents and accomplishing court requirements on time will not only increase a party’s chances of getting favorable results, but more importantly, protects them from getting their case dismissed.