A contested divorce occurs when the couple looking to obtain a divorce cannot agree on terms such as child custody and the division of marital assets or debts. In a contested divorce, the couple asks the Judge to make decisions on these issues in lieu of the couple coming to an agreement. There are several different phases of a contested divorce which are outlined below.
You should select a divorce attorney to guide you through the process. You are welcome to interview multiple attorneys and select the one you feel will best represent you and your wishes. After you hire a local family law attorney, the lawyer you select will guide you through the process of obtaining your divorce.
The attorney will prepare and file your Complaint with the Family Court in your jurisdiction. They will then have the filed documents delivered to your spouse. If you are on the receiving end of a Divorce Complaint and cannot agree with your partner’s terms, then at this point you need to hire a local divorce attorney. You, through your attorney, will need to file an Answer to the Divorce Complaint within thirty days.
Once the Answer is filed, then the process called Discovery will begin. Discovery is the process by which you uncover detailed information about the marital assets, marital debts, child custody arrangements, and other relevant issues to the case. This information is discovered through the use of legal tools such as interrogatories, requests for admissions, depositions, and requests to produce documents. An interrogatory is a written question that your spouse must respond to truthfully in writing. A request for admission is a written statement that your spouse must either admit or deny. A deposition is similar to an in person interview during which your attorney will ask questions of your spouse. Requests to produce documents are written requests delivered to your spouse for the delivery of certain documents such as bank statements and other relevant documents.
During and after discovery, a Judge will encourage settlement. However, if you and your spouse are unable to settle, your case will eventually go to trial. At trial, you, through your attorney, will have the opportunity to call witnesses to support your case, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of and confront witnesses called by your spouse. The Judge will hear both sides of the case and then make a decision regarding the issues that the two of you could not agree on.
If you are unhappy with the result, your attorney can then file a post-trial motion within thirty days of the Judge’s ruling. If the motion is denied, then your attorney can file an appeal of the Judge’s ruling within forty-two days of this denial of the post-trial motion. This whole process can be very long and cumbersome and you definitely need the knowledge of an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through this process.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!