What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is one in which the divorcing parties are unable to agree on central issues like child custody, child support, visitation agreements, division of assets, including the home, and division of debt. In a contested divorce litigation is often long and contentious for when spouses cannot agree on the basics of their divorce then the court will make the final decision on all unresolved issues.
What Tactics Should I Undertake in the Case of A Contested Divorce?
Effective steps in filing for a contested divorce include:
- Meet With a Divorce Lawyer. Contested divorces require expert legal advice. Once you chose a lawyer they will have you gather all documents pertaining to marital assets, children of the marriage and any other issues you feel are pertinent. Your divorce lawyer will help you to identify what you are entitled to, then the lawyer will prepare your divorce petition and file it with the court.
- Divorce Petition Served Upon Your Spouse. After the divorce petition is filed with the court, your spouse is served with a petition for divorce.
- Your Spouse Responds to the Petition. Moststate divorce laws require a spouse to respond to a petition for divorce within 30 days. If your spouse does not respond within the specified time, they are in default and you may obtain a default judgment of divorce. If response is timely, your case proceeds to the discovery and settlement stages
- During discovery spouses request detailed information from one another through written interrogatories, document requests and depositions. During discovery the spouses are able to request temporary orders for child support or alimony from the courts.
- A judge may order the spouses to go to mediation where a third party attempts to help them negotiate any unresolved issues. If spouses cannot agree, the discovery phase continues and a court date is established.
- During your divorce trial, each side will be able to put on witnesses, cross – examine the other side’s witnesses and make closing arguments. State laws and the amount of divorce cases in your local Family Court System will determine how quickly your case goes to trial.
- Post-Trial Motions. Once the judge has signed an order, either party is entitled to file a post-trial motion for relief from the final judgment.
- Can be filed if there is disagreement with the final order.
Contested divorces are complex and require an experienced divorce lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and ensure that you are fully protected.