According to the American Institute of Stress, divorce ranks second out of 43 major life stressors. Second only to the death of a spouse or child, divorce can lead to unparalleled emotional and financial turmoil – especially if you are in the midst of a contested divorce. Below is a look at some of the challenges associated, and the key to resolving your divorce quickly and fairly.
What exactly is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce arises when a married couple disagrees on one or more issues referenced in divorce paperwork. For instance, a husband and wife may agree on property division but not custody arrangements. Or, they may disagree on all key issues surrounding the divorce. A divorce is considered contested as long as there is at least one outstanding issue that is unable to be resolved between a married couple.
How does a contested divorce happen?
“By definition, discovery is part of the pre-trial phase of a divorce in which each side obtains evidence and information from the other side. The goal of discovery is to make sure that both sides have the same information that will allow you to better negotiate a fair agreement as part of your final settlement.” – Jason Crowley, CFA, CFP, CDFA, Managing Partner of Divorce Capital Planning
A divorce usually does not become contested right away. In many instances, divorce proceedings become contested as spouses navigate through the discovery phase of their divorced proceedings. Also known as the pre-trial phase of divorce, the discovery phase involves depositions and a review of documentation to verify marital assets, custody, and income. This information is used by both parties to determine how assets and custody should be divided. A contested divorce can arise if any of the following occurs:
- One or both spouses try to hide or lie about assets
- One or both parties refuse to respond to requests for documentation or information
- One of the spouses is steadfast in their desire not to get divorced
- One or both parties have an attorney who advises them to contest the divorce
- One or both spouses discover that the other spouse was unfaithful
What are some reasons why people choose to contest a divorce?
Contested divorces do not unfold on their own. They occur when one or both spouses proactively chooses to contest the divorce on any of the grounds outlined in a Petition for Divorce. In general, people decide to contest a divorce because they disagree with issues in three main categories: Child custody, marital assets, and spousal support. Here is a look at some of the most common reasons why people choose to contest a divorce:
- One of the spouses does not want the divorce
- A spouse feels that they are being treated unfairly
- Unrealistic expectations lead one or both spouses to feel that they deserve everything
- A spouse purposely contests the divorce in an effort to control the proceedings
- One or both spouses hire an attorney who is known for battling
What are some of the biggest challenges facing parties?
There are a host of unpleasant consequences that can persist until the issues at stake are resolved. Here is a look at some of the biggest challenges facing parties in this situation:
- Delays: An uncontested divorce can be finalized in just a couple of months while contested divorces often take at least a year to resolve.
- Added Expense: The longer your divorce proceedings take, the more legal costs you may incur unless you can find a flat fee divorce program.
- Stress: This can be especially painful for spouses and children when it seems like there is no resolution in sight.
What can happen if a divorce remains contested?
A contested divorce can lead to a host of unpleasant consequences until it is resolved. Even if both parties are in agreement on every issue except one, the divorce is still considered contested and will remain that way until both parties reach a resolution on all issues at stake.
In some cases, the judge may suggest that spouses attend counseling. This typically occurs shortly after a divorce is contested and is most likely to happen if the judge feels that the marriage could be saved or if one of the parties does not want the divorce to take place.
Mediation is another possibility for parties involved in divorce. Mediation involves the presence of a neutral third party or mediator who serves as a go-between for two spouses who are having difficulty resolving one or more issues.
If successful, mediation can prevent a contested divorce from proceeding to trial. If a trial is necessary, both parties need to be prepared for a lengthy, combative process that can go on for years. Going to trial can also be costly, especially if the process lasts a year or more. A divorce is not officially final until the judge signs a judgment and the court clerk enters that judgment into the court record.
What is the best way to resolve a contested divorce?
As outlined above, contested divorces are full of challenges. Attempting to navigate this sea of complexities on your own can be an overwhelming process. The single best way to resolve this situation is to seek the expertise of an experienced divorce lawyer in the Tampa area. With the help of a divorce attorney with a proven track record of success, you can resolve your divorce faster, helping you to minimize divorce costs and keep stress at bay.
Contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
With thousands of attorneys serving the Tampa Bay area, it is critical to choose a divorce attorney with a proven track record of success resolving contested divorces. The divorce lawyers with Florida Law Advisers, P.A. are committed to helping you resolve your contested divorce quickly and fairly. We invite you to contact us today to arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled divorce attorneys. We look forward to serving as your trusted legal advocate.