While no divorce is ever easy, there are unique challenges associated with a contested divorce. These arise from the fact that the spouses involved are unable to reach an agreement on one or more issues relating to the dissolution of the marriage union. In order to overcome those challenges, it's important that you first understand them and what resources are available to you.
Unfortunately, the specific terms that make a divorce contested is different for each state, but a broader explanation is possible. The term "contested" is used in relation to any divorce action wherein you and your spouse are unable to agree to the terms required by your state. This typically includes division of property, spousal support, and other financial matters, but it can also include child custody or child support, though some states resolve child custody with a separate proceeding.
It is in your best interest to make every reasonable effort to reach the necessary agreements for an uncontested divorce, but that may not always be possible. In those instances, a contested divorce will begin once the initiating party files the divorce petition and delivers a copy to their spouse. While this can be done in person, it is not a requirement, and in some cases can be handled by a state or county official. For more specific requirements and definitions, it's best to speak with a local attorney or check with your county's court house.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Contested divorces can result in some of the most protracted legal battles you can think of, often resulting in costly and emotionally draining ordeals for everyone involved. After all reasonable attempts have been made to reach an agreements on the terms of your divorce, make sure you have a qualified divorce attorney on your side before going any further. Nothing prevents you from representing yourself in these proceedings, but the resources and experience of a seasoned attorney can be the difference between night and day once the dust settles.
Regardless of the role you played in the marriage and the divorce to come, you will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as your spouse. In a contested divorce, the spouses involved are effectively placing the final ruling in the hands of the court, and in doing so must make available all pertinent documents relating to financial, real estate and other personal property. Plan for a trial, but do all you can to reach a settlement before things go that far, as anything revealed during a divorce trial will become a part of public record.
When all is said and done, no attorney worth their salt will encourage a contested divorce. That said, it's sometimes unavoidable, so it's best to be prepared for the challenges ahead, and have the resources necessary to come out on top. For more information, contact a professional such as Dianna Harris, Attorney.