Litigation typically begins when a motion or petition is filed with the court. This document identifies what relief is being sought. That paperwork is then served on the other party with a summons or an order to show cause. This service notifies the other party that a case has been filed, what the issues are and that they have a limited amount of time to file a Response. The time for the Response will vary and depends on the type of action commenced. The filing of the Response triggers a trial date in Oregon. That is not the case in Washington where further action is required to set a trial
Then, the case typically heads into a discovery phase. Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the relevant evidence. Discovery is meant to eliminate surprises and clarify what the case is about. There is also the ability of one to make an under oath statement known as a deposition. The deposition can be used in the trial or just to find out more information, but this allows for both parties to be aware of the arguments or claims that are going to be made by the other party in the trial.
There can also be requests for temporary orders made. The amount of time that it will take to get into Court to be heard in response to a request for temporary orders varies between counties.
Cases typically head into a form of dispute resolution, either negotiation, mediation, a four-way settlement conference with lawyers and clients present or a judicial settlement conference with all parties, lawyers and a judge present. In most counties in both Washington and Oregon, participation in alternative dispute resolution is mandatory prior to trial.
If the parties are unable to resolve all or some of their disputes, the case proceeds to trial (also referred to as a hearing) or arbitration, depending on the issues in dispute. At trial or arbitration, each person presents witnesses and the evidence collected is recorded. After this occurs, the judge or arbitrator renders their decision.
Patty Arjun has worked exclusively in family law matters for over a decade and offers broad experience and knowledge of both Oregon and Washington family law. Contact her to learn more about the litigation process and how your case should be handled.