If a couple has a hard time agreeing on any or some of the divorce terms, a contested divorce occurs.
What is Contested Divorce?
As its name implies, a contested divorce is where spouses disagree about all or some of the issues raised, often related to spousal support, a division of financial assets, and children. The process is complicated and takes a long time. Both parties need to file court documents which outline their standpoints with regard to the issue. The presence and help of a divorce attorney are needed as well.
Pros and Cons
We can say a contested divorce is beneficial when:
- Fighting for your equality and having the need for your voice to be heard
- If a compromise isn’t a part of the plan for you or your spouse, or if you feel you cannot talk without fear or freely
- Ensuring you are prepared emotionally, financially, and legally
How about the drawbacks?
- Requires you to spend more amount of time and money
- Your information will be published in public as you need to present a handful of testimony and documents to the court
- A fight in the court can emotionally (or financially) drain you.
The Procedures For Contested Divorce
Complicated. That’s what a contested divorce represents. In this case, you need to collect information, review your choices, and generate a precise plan with your attorney before you make a concrete decision.
- Consult And Hire An Attorney
During your initial consultation with your divorce attorney, he will review your specific case, discuss your spouse, and accrue all information on the various issues of your marriage including your children and marital assets.
- Prepare, File, And Serve The Divorce Petition And Supporting Documents
Your divorce attorney will draw up the divorce paperwork, outlining your specific requests in the divorce. The divorce petition is filed with the court, and it will be then served on your spouse through a deputy sheriff or mail.
- Respond To The Petition
Once the divorce petition has been served, your spouse will be granted a specified amount of time to respond to the divorce petition. Be prepared for your spouse to hire their own divorce attorney if they haven’t already and to counter your petition with specifics of their own. If they fail to do respond or is in default, then you could get default judgment of divorce, favorable to your requests. But if your partner does respond, the case will advance on to the discovery and settlement phases.
It is the process of contested divorce where information is gathered in order to get information pertaining to income, marital status, etc. from your partner and third-party witnesses. This is typically done with document requests, depositions, and written interrogations. During this process, both parties can ask for alimony from the courts or temporary orders for child support.
Before the court date, judges encourage both parties to come to an agreement. Couples may be ordered to go to mediation wherein a neutral third party helps them handle the unresolved issues and attempt to settle the divorce petition. The discovery stage will be pushed through if none or only one is able to come to an agreement.
- Pre-Trial And Hearings
You and your spouse will go to divorce court if both of you are not able to resolve the issues and settlement fails. During the divorce trial, each side will present their case to the judge. Following the testimony from both sides, the judge will determine the outcome of the divorce – who gets what and how much.
Even when the trial is over, and the judge has already signed their order, you and/or your spouse can still qualify to file a post-trial motion for relief from the final judgment. Either party has 30 days after the order is signed to file their motion.
You can file a notice of appeal if the post-trial motion is denied, giving you 30 days after the denied post-trial or final judgment. The other party has approximately a month to file a response.
Hiring a divorce attorney when you are facing a contested divorce can help you navigate the process, meet the legal requirements, and abide by the timelines. Having a divorce attorney represent you can also ensure your rights are observed and your voice is heard during the process.