Seven Steps Couples Should Take in a Contested Divorce
A separating couple files for an uncontested divorce when they don’t agree on how marital assets are split, who gets children’s custody, or other related issues. When divorce ends up in court, the judge will listen to both parties to make a fair judgment on the contested issues. Every party must have a lawyer to represent their interests. So, what happens in a contested divorce? A contested divorce process involves the following steps:
Filing the Divorce Petition
You or your attorney can file the legal paperwork that asks for the divorce. Also, it should state the reason your marriage has to end. You should file the petition with the court and your lawyer will have your spouse served with the petition along with supporting documents.
Giving an Answer to the Petition
Once your spouse is served with the petition, they file their response within 20 days from receipt. If the court does not get an answer from your spouse, it can grant you a default divorce judgment.
The discovery process during a divorce is carried out to collect information from your spouse or third-party witnesses. Your attorney will perform written interrogations, request documents, and carry out depositions. They are looking to get information such as marital assets, income, and others.
Settling the Case Out of Court
Your attorneys will make proposals and negotiations to try to find a mutually agreeable agreement. Mediation may be ordered by a judge where a mediator will help you and your spouse resolve issues.
Going to Trial
If you and your spouse cannot resolve certain issues and fail to reach a settlement, you will have to face each other in court. During the trial, you will present witnesses that both attorneys will cross-examine. The judge will take into account all facts both parties present and the circumstances of the case to make the final order.
Filing Post-Trial Motions
Both parties can file a motion for rehearing after the judge enters an Order. You may want to do this if you find the judgment unfavorable.
Filing an Appeal
If the court denies your post-trial motion, you can file a notice of appeal. Your case will be sent back to trial if it is reversed.
Someday, you may wish to change the judge’s decision. If you do so, you should show a change in circumstances and present an argument why such change makes it necessary to amend the judgment. Make sure to call an attorney to get advice on how to proceed or if you should do so at all.