The first document that is filed in almost any dissolution case is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The person who files the Petition is referred to as the Petitioner. The Petition, along with the Summons and a temporary economic restraining order, must be formally served on the other party, referred to as the Respondent. The Respondent then has 21 days to file an Answer to the Petition after being served.
Soon thereafter, the Gallatin County District Court typically orders the parties to each attend a parenting workshop, participate in mediation and submit agreed-upon deadlines if the case not settle. Within 60 days from when the Petition is served, each party must complete and exchange a financial disclosure statement. If children are involved, the parties must complete a Child Support Financial Affidavit. A child support calculation is required in every dissolution case, which must be reviewed by the court.
If property division and parenting are not resolved at mediation, the parties may engage in discovery. During the discovery phase, parties may serve formal written questions (interrogatories), requests for production and/or requests for admission. Although not as common because of the cost, parties may also elect to take their spouse’s deposition to obtain sworn testimony under oath before trial. The parties may also file their respective lists of witnesses, exhibits and expert witnesses.
Before the parties obtain a trial date, they are usually required to undergo a second mediation to resolve any remaining issues. If the second mediation is not successful, the attorneys will attend a pretrial conference where a trial date is set.