What Does Contested Divorce Mean? How Do I Deal With One?

contested divorce, what does contested divorce meanA contested divorce occurs when you and your spouse can’t agree on all the relevant issues associated with ending your marriage. If this happens, a judge may have to rule on how you will divide your assets. If you have children, they may also rule on child custody. This type of divorce tends to be messy, and you may need long-term legal representation.

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we understand how tough any divorce can be. We know you’ll need guidance, and we’re more than willing to provide a free consultation to see if we can help you.

But first, let’s look at how to handle a contested divorce, and the factors that might result in one.

Will I Have to File for Divorce Differently If I Expect a Contested Divorce?

No. There is only one way to file for divorce in California. First, you fill out the necessary paperwork, pay the court fee, and file a petition to dissolve the marriage. Then you have your spouse served with the petition. Your spouse must then file a response. Both spouses should have legal representation at this point.

Next, if you have children together, you should obtain a “request for order” for temporary child custody, visitation and support. Mediation with a court employee is mandatory to resolve potential custody issues, and is separate from any other mediation you may attempt. You may also request discovery and disclosure at this point.

What Are Discovery and Disclosure, and How Are They Different for a Contested Divorce?

Discovery is the formal request for and sharing of information between the attorneys of both spouses. Disclosure is a full exchange of information about all assets and debts, along with an income/expenses declaration, and any other issues relevant to earnings or belongings. Both processes are the same for all divorces, as is the process of arranging a court date.

Only when you begin to work out the issues involved with your divorce will you be able to determine whether it will be contested or uncontested.

What Might Lead to My Divorce Being Contested?

One or both of you may start the process if you fight disclosure and/or discovery. Furthermore, any significant factual or legal disagreement, especially over assets or child custody, will cause a judge to rule the divorce as contested. This is especially true if one or both of you display what the court deems “an unreasonable refusal” to settle the issues.

How Long Will My Divorce Case Take If It’s Contested?

That depends on you and your spouse. A case with few or no discovery/disclosure issues may result in an earlier court date. The more complex the discovery and disclosure processes, and the harder you fight them, the longer the scheduling will take. That will make it less likely you’ll get an early court date. A judge’s schedule fills quickly.

A complex divorce trial may also take up more court time. A divorce trial includes all the elements of any civil court case. Witnesses and spouses provide testimony, the lawyers present their cases, and the judge reviews the evidence. The fewer the points of contention and the more reasonable you and your spouse are, the shorter the case.

Contact a Fresno Divorce Lawyer to Learn More About How to Handle a Contested Divorce

At the Law Office of Rick D. Banks, we’re dedicated to helping people like you through tough times. If you need a divorce lawyer, call us today at (559) 222-4891 for a consultation.

Any divorce will be difficult for you. If you face a contested divorce, you can count on us to put in an extra effort to get you the best possible outcome.

Related Articles: