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Lawsuits: Fiction v. Reality (2/2)

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Step 1: Pleadings

The first step involves one party filing a complaint. This can include:

A complaint in which the plaintiff bringing the suit must set forth the facts supporting the claims and state the causes of action.

- An answer during which a defendant must admit, deny or deny knowledge of any alleged facts in the complaint.

- Affirmative defenses, which involve the defendant providing justifications for the complaint.

- A counterclaim, which is filed when the defendant brings an action against the plaintiff. This means that if you file a lawsuit against someone, he or she might sue you back. If this happens, you now need to defend yourself.

- A reply to counterclaims, which is similar to an answer.

Step 2: Discovery

After the pleadings, the lawsuit enters the discovery stage. Usually, discovery entails:

- Depositions, where the parties can depose (or interview) under oath the other party before the trial.

- Interrogatories, where each party can ask written questions of the other party before trial.

- Document demands, when each party can request relevant documents from the other party.

- Subpoenas, which are orders compelling individuals or organizations to produce documents, answer written questions, or be interviewed under oath.

Step 3: Motions

A motion is a request or an application to a court asking for a ruling. There are many different types of motions as there are pre-trial and post-trial motions. Some of the motions are:

- To dismiss the case outright before answering the complaint.

- For summary judgment for the court to make its decision when there is no dispute in facts and no need to proceed to trial,

- To compel, usually when a party is not providing documentary evidence or required information;

- To strike usually when a party is violating an Order.

- To renew or re-argue a previous motion.

- For pendente lite support, which is temporary financial support sought during a divorce proceeding.

- To enforce, this kind of motion asks the judge to enforce the Order and/or to hold the other party in contempt for not following the court’s Order. You can also ask the judge to award you any unpaid money, including child support or spousal support.