Suit Up! Filing for Divoce Can Save Time
Importance of Filing Suit in Divorce and Child Custody Cases
It is important to note that courts may grant child support and alimony retrospectively from the date that suit is filed. The significance of this can be great.
What often occurs is that, in order to try save money, parties will first try to attempt negotiations before suit is filed. If these negotiations fail, as they often do, one or both parties then file suit, but waiting for a hearing can last many months and possible financial hardship may result. This is because courts are often relatively slow in responding to the needs of litigants. It is not uncommon for months to pass between the date of filing suit and an actual hearing.
For example, let’s say a party decides to file suit in January. The hearing might not be until mid-March. This still gives the parties plenty of time to try to negotiate a deal. If no deal is reached and the case goes to a hearing, one party could be awarded child support or alimony by the court retroactively starting at the January date of filing suit. Alternatively, if the parties choose not to file suit, and negotiations fail, a suit filed in March might not receive a hearing until summer. This outcome may not be very desirable to the party that eventually receives child support or alimony because they will have effectively received nothing in those months they otherwise could have received support.
The bottom line is this: it can sometimes be a costly and preventable mistake when a client seeking alimony and/or child support is reluctant to file suit, either because of being nervous about going to court or a desire to try negotiation first. Litigation can often times be the best route to eventual resolution and filing suit can protect a vulnerable party since child support or alimony is retroactive to the date suit is filed. These are important considerations and should be discussed with the advice of legal counsel.
Fred Antenberg is an attorney who is located in Columbia, Maryland who handles family cases in Howard County and surrounding counties. Call Fred at 410-730-4404.