Definition of Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is a divorce where both parties cannot agree on elements of the separation including child custody, child support, property distribution or spousal support. A contested divorce differs from an uncontested divorce where the spouses have come to a general understanding of how each issue will be settled in the divorce. Contested divorces take longer and cost more than an uncontested or collaborative divorce.

Both contested and uncontested divorces are initiated by filing a divorce petition. If there are contested issues one of the divorce lawyers may request a hearing. A hearing to create temporary orders may also be held, allowing each spouse to present a limited amount of evidence to help the divorce court decide how to rule. The temporary order will only be enforced until the divorce decree is finalized or the judge’s decisions are modified.

In a contested divorce the court may also require both parties to attempt some type of alternative divorce resolution such as mediation or counseling to help eliminate some of the divorce issues. If the mediation fails the couple can request a trial. The divorce lawyers will also engage in discovery, which includes gathering information about the couple’s income, property, and businesses. The attorneys will also evaluate information about the custody and visitation of the child.

If the case goes to court the judge will hear evidence from both parties, including testimony from both spouses and other witnesses. The judge will also review financial records, police or medical reports and any other admissible forms of evidence. The judge will then divide the assets and determine child custody arrangements. In some cases the judge will rule from the bench. At other times the judge will enter a ruling later. The divorce is generally not finalized until the divorce decree has been entered.

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