Litigation refers to the entire legal divorce action from the moment the first petition is filed with a court until the last order is made by the court. However, the term litigation is frequently used to refer to litigated trial divorce matters - the arguments in court in a contested divorce matter.
Divorce trials are tried before a judge, not a jury. Family court commissioners also often hear interim motions filed during the divorce process. The final contested trial is before a judge.
If the parties are so widely separated on issues that they cannot find a common ground, the court will ask the attorneys to attempt to resolve the issues. If the attorneys are unable to resolve the issues, then the court can and often will order the parties into mediation for the purpose of resolving issues. In custody situations, a court can order the parties into mediation. The court can also order the appointment of a GAL - Guardian Ad Litem. The GAL represents the best interests of the minor child or children. A guardian ad litem reports to the court. The GAL is an attorney who will make a recommendation based on the evidence gathered in a custody or placement study. The court is not bound to follow that recommendation, but they often times will do so.
If mediation is ordered, but the parties fail to agree, then the decision will be up to the court. Often times, both parties are disappointed when the court intervenes and makes a decision for the parties that they either must live with or that generates more litigation. If your case eventually needs to go to trial, your family law attorney will explain the procedures and process, when and how the parties and their witnesses will testify. Hopefully, you will not need the experience of a contested final divorce trial.
If you are considering a divorce, require assistance with the legal disputes between you and your domestic partner, want to obtain legal custody or physical placement of your child, want to invoke your rights as a grandparent to visit with your grandchild, need to pursue a paternity order, or want to speak with an attorney for legal advice on mediation or how the laws of the state of Wisconsin will affect you, please call Attorney Kathleen Reiley (608-246-8309) or send her an email.