A contested divorce is a traditional divorce whereby the parties have not reached an agreement regarding important aspects of the marriage.
You might have a situation where both parties are willing to get a divorce and want a divorce, however, they cannot agree on all of the issues and so the case is contested. There are other cases where one party does not want the divorce and is actually going to contest the entire procedure I merely on grounds. However, in the traditional contested the base, the parties are resigned to the fact that they are going to get a divorce at some point in the process. However, they cannot agree on terms.
The most common issue in dispute in a contested divorce is custody. Custody involves who is going to have the day to day operations of the minor children and who is going to have the say in terms of the health, education and religious upbringing of the children. In some cases, custody is not the issue but division of property, maintenance, allocation of debt, and division of retirement benefits is the issue. In other cases, one spouse simply does not know what the other spouse has in terms of finances become one spouse has control all the finances in the merit from the start. In those cases, the attorneys are going to want to engage in discovery. Discovery is a process whereby one law firm will subpoena either written interrogatories or request to produce documents of the other party to determine the financial status of that party and to determine whether or not any property has been transferred in the last several years. The purpose of the discovery, once again, is to find out who has what so that the court and the parties can make an equitable division of the property and an equitable allocation of the debt.
So in a typical contested case, it’s going to be long, drawn out, costly and in most cases, a compromise whereby no one is 100% happy. Contested cases are over 50% of the cases that are filed throughout the country and in many cases, contested cases will not go to any kind of trial. Most contested cases will eventually settle some time during the process and end in one final court date known as a prove up where a Judgment for Dissolution will be prepared by the attorneys, signed by the parties and then submitted to the court for the court’s approval. Should the court grant the approval and enter the judgment, the participants are divorced on that day.