Contested Divorce: What You Need To Know
Once you have made the decision to get divorced, you may engage in a conversation with your spouse to determine whether or not you can agree on any of the pertinent issues associated with the end of the marriage, including the division of property, spousal support, child support and child custody. A contested divorce is any situation in which there are issues upstanding after you have made an effort to resolve things with your spouse.
A Contested Divorce Can Get Complicated
A contested divorce may be one of the most complicated types of divorces because it involves individuals who are unable to come to an agreement on many or just one of the key issues in their divorce. An uncontested divorce, in comparison, is any situation in which both parties are able to come to an agreement on all key issues.
A Contested Divorce Is More Complex
A contested divorce means that spouses will have to go through several different steps before the divorce is finalized. The divorce proceedings in a contested divorce will typically take much longer and may involve higher legal fee as well as amplified stress as a result of the complications. With a contested divorce, some of the steps that both spouses will need to go through before the divorce is finalized include:
- Putting together, filing and serving the divorce petition to the other party.
- Responding to the petition, if necessary.
- Identifying and hiring an experienced divorce attorney.
- Engaging in a discovery process, such as gathering information, subpoenas, written questions and depositions associated with the contested issues.
- Legal motions and hearings for the pre-trial.
- Settlement proposals as well as any negotiations between divorce attorneys.
- Preparation for trial in the event that settlement efforts fail.
- A comprehensive court trial.
- Appeals in the event that you dispute the decisions made by the judges.
When Talking Fails A Contested Divorce Is Likely
Spouses may be unable to resolve issues, which could lead to a settlement failure that prompts litigation. A divorce judge will most often always encourage spouses to attempt to work together in order to resolve issues, but when that is not able to lead to a successful outcome, the next step is litigation. Any contested divorce can be extremely complex and requires careful preparation as well as a clear understanding of the legal processes involved and what to expect as the case unfolds in court. It is not easy to accept that the other spouse is not open to agreement on particular issues and in this situation identifying an experienced contested divorce attorney is strongly recommended.
You May Be Able To Resolve Issues Out Of Court
Not all disputes necessarily have to be resolved in court. Many spouses opt to work together to resolve as many issues as possible. If you are able to come to an agreement outside of court with your spouse on all of these key issues, you may be eligible to file an uncontested divorce. Since an uncontested divorce is much less complex than a contested divorce, it may be easier to resolve these issues and much less expensive to do so. Spouses must be able to reach a decision associated with divorce terms without going to trial.
Identify What Your Ideal Outcome Is
Every couple that is seeking a divorce should first identify the ideal outcome of their divorce. They may not recognize that cooperation and compromise are going to be critical for any uncontested divorce. It may be better for all parties involved including the divorcing spouses as well as any children to identify the opportunities for uncontested divorce resolution. This means that the divorce will be finalized much more quickly and that it will often cost less. In many different situations, an uncontested divorce is better for everyone involved and helps to minimize the stress associated with a traditional divorce.
When All Else Fails, You Need An Experienced Attorney
Technical legal procedures, high financial stakes, and complex issues are the hallmark of a contested divorce. If you suspect that you and your spouse may be able to come to terms of agreement on your own without the assistance of an attorney or without having to go into divorce litigation, it is strongly recommended that you pursue this option first before moving forward with litigation. The process of going through a divorce can be extremely complicated and it can also take an emotional toll on every individual involved. Identifying all opportunities for resolution can help to minimize this.