One of life’s most challenging experiences, undergoing a divorce frequently involves the same kind of sadness and trauma as losing a loved one. It’s crucial to take care of oneself, which should entail receiving the psychological support and logistical help you require to make it through this process.
You ought to be aware of what a divorce’s legal procedure entails. Many divorcing couples are frequently shocked to discover that there are various “types” of divorce. The fundamentals and steps of the contested divorce will be covered in this article. Following reading this article, if you have any specific inquiries, you might wish to get legal advice from a nearby divorce attorney.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
When the spouses dispute about some or all of their divorce-related matters, like alimony, assets, property, child custody, and/or child support, it is referred to as a “contested divorce.”
The court also deems a divorce “contested” when one spouse seeks a fault-based divorce while the other does not, or if one spouse prefers to follow the state’s no-fault divorce procedure.
When the spouses concur on every point including the grounds (or legal justifications) for the divorce, it is referred to as an uncontested divorce. A divorce settlement agreement that has been signed by both sides or parties will be submitted to the judge for approval. The court can refer to that uncontested divorce as a “summary dissolution” or even a “joint divorce petition” depending on where you reside.
Due to additional legal fees, court appearances, and the potential for a divorce trial, a contested divorce can typically be more time- and money-consuming than the straightforward uncontested process.
Contested Divorce Process
If both sides disagree on at least one reason or matter, a contested divorce occurs. You cannot initiate an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse disagree on any matter. Divorces that are disputed take longer, cost more money, and are more difficult. It is advisable to divide the contested divorce proceedings into the following steps below.
Reasons for Contested Divorce
During a divorce, a disagreement might include almost anything that causes conflict between the parties. It might be challenging to decide how to divide assets, who gets the property, or even who gets to keep the kids. A Nevada divorce attorney will advise you to fight your divorce for five key reasons, including:
Assets Being Concealed
Unfortunately, it happens frequently for spouses to conceal things from one another both during their marriage and during a divorce, especially matters of money. When one spouse fails to disclose assets to the court, the judge is not permitted to consider the value of those assets in determining how to divide their marital property between both parties. In addition, the determination for spousal maintenance, if there is any, and child support may be impacted by such assets. Due to the fact that disputed divorces are litigated, both spouses have access to discovery techniques that can be used to locate all relevant assets, which can help level the playing field between the parties.
Children’s Best Interests
A contested divorce is necessary to get a court decision regarding custody and/or visitation if parents cannot agree on co-parenting arrangements. This is so that the judge can make a decision that best fits the interests of the involved child or kids. This process takes into consideration things like the children’s emotional and physical needs, each parent’s capacity to care for the kids, any past behaviors of a parent that would indicate problems in a parent-child relationship, along with the wishes of their child or children.
After a divorce, spousal support is frequently required as what being stated in NRS 125.181, although it’s not unusual among spouses to disagree. It must be demonstrated to the court in a contested divorce that such a party seeking monetary help forfeits significant benefits during the marriage. A judge may grant the request for spousal support for a number of good reasons, such as when one spouse dropped out of school to pursue employment while the other earned a degree, when one spouse has a disability that prevents them from working, or when a spouse is unable to find employment because they are caring for a disabled child.
Abuse in Marriage
Unfortunately, numerous divorces involve parties who were violent to their partners physically or psychologically. Divorcing an abusive partner might put an end to a dark time, but it can also be difficult, since abusive partners will often want to intervene in the divorce process in any way they can. As a result, in a contested divorce, having a knowledgeable divorce lawyer and guidance from the court may help guarantee everything is accounted for without intervention from the abusive side.
Unwillingness to compromise and unrealistic expectations on the part of the spouse
A contested divorce serves the best interests of both parties if one spouse believes they are subject to unfair circumstances. With somebody unwilling to make concessions or negotiate, it’s indeed impossible to address all associated family law issues. Even while going through a contested divorce might be difficult, it can prevent an extremely unfair and/or one-sided divorce case.
Filing a Divorce Petition
The first stage in getting a divorce, whether it’s uncontested or contested, is to finish your formal request, also known as a “complaint” or “divorce petition,” and submit it to the relevant court:
The following details must be included in your petition:
- the names, addresses, and phone numbers of both spouses (except if you request that your information be kept private)
- a declaration stating that you adhere to the residency requirements for divorce within your state (if any)
- the time and place of your marriage
- The names of both the spouses before the marriage
- The date of the couple’s separation
- any grounds for divorce, if any
- If there are any children from their marriage, their names, birth dates, and their social security numbers.
- if either spouse requires or anticipates requiring alimony or child support.
- the child custody preferences of the spouse
- a statement indicating whether the partners own any separate or marital property.
Your divorce petition should be presented to the court in both the original and many copies. A filing fee is required, and it varies based on where you reside. You can ask the court for a waiver if you are unable to pay the cost. The clerk will give you a certified and also official copy of paperwork after you file.
You must hand-deliver the divorce documents to your spouse after keeping a copy of the documents. To do this, you should ask or employ a third party to hand-deliver the documents to your spouse on your behalf. “Service of process” is what we term this.
The divorce petition as well as service requirements differ from state to state, so if you’re unsure of what the court requires, consult with a local family law expert.
Response and Counter-Complaint
Your spouse will be given a set amount of time to reply to the claims in the divorce petition after you serve it on them. You can start the procedure of asking for a default divorce if your spouse doesn’t respond to your complaint.
The replying spouse typically has about 21 and 28 days, based on where you reside, to submit an official statement or reply to the court. While an answer need not be elaborated, it must address each of the claims made in the original complaint. The replying spouse should file an answer as well as a separate counter-complaint with both the court and send it to the other spouse if the responding spouse has additional accusations, such as alimony or a new request for child custody.
Your spouse is given a set amount of time to reply to the claims in the divorce petition after you serve it on them. You can start the procedure of asking for a default divorce if your spouse doesn’t respond to your issue.
Financial Disclosures: What Are They?
Divorcing spouses are required to complete and exchange financial disclosure forms with one another. Although each state has its unique disclosure laws, the majority of them call for the spouses to share at most the following financial details:
- Real estate documents and mortgage statements
- Statements on stocks or other investments
- Financial statements for businesses
- tax returns
- retirement accounts
- credit card bills
- Information on auto loans
The purpose of financial disclosures will be to guarantee that both spouses fully comprehend each other’s financial situation throughout the divorce proceedings, before they engage in settlement negotiations and/or the judge officially grants the divorce. Child support, alimony, and division of assets are all determined using the information in financial declarations.
Financial disclosures may seem onerous, but they are required. If you don’t produce them, your divorce may take longer to complete and the judge may require you to pay sanctions or your spouse’s legal costs.
Temporary Hearings and Orders
Divorces all require time. Even if you ask for a streamlined or uncontested divorce, many states (NRS 125A.155) have a minimum period of time which must pass before the court can declare a case to be resolved. Since contested divorces can drag on for years, some spouses may experience financial hardship, particularly in households where one spouse was really the primary provider of income. Other times, while the divorce is proceeding, the spouses may require assistance in arranging a child custody or parenting time (visitation) arrangement, which can cause further delays.
Couples who require assistance during the divorce procedure may submit a motion requesting that the court get started right away. For instance, the court may be asked to set up an interim timetable when the couples are unable to agree regarding custody or visitation. When the court issues an order, all parties are required to abide by it until the judge issues a new one at the conclusion of the divorce proceedings.
During the divorce process, it’s usual for couples to ask for temporary alimony and/or child support. Less frequently, but nevertheless possible, some couples request a temporary order from the court directing each spouse to pay specific marital expenses up until the judge grants the divorce.
Divorce discovery describes a number of legal processes that enable the parties to a divorce to officially request information one from the other. The court will set a timeframe for when every side must start and finish its discovery requests during a contested divorce. Although not all cases will necessitate it, all courts permit it.
Because each side is given the opportunity to ask for any of the following during discovery, it is frequently one of the most time-consuming and expensive parts of a contested divorce:
- depositions, which are recorded interviews with you by the attorney for the other spouse.
- interrogatories (a set of questions in writing from your spouse that you need to respond to)
- request that documents be produced (a list of tangible paperwork that the other party asks you to provide, such as credit card statements over a specific time period)
- Subpoena requests (a formal request for records made by a spouse or by a third party, such as an employer, if the spouse declines to disclose the information voluntarily).
After receiving the information you requested, you and your attorney will analyze it and decide how to move forward with the divorce process.
Voluntary or Court-Ordered Divorce Mediation
Every family experiences emotional strain throughout the hostile divorce process, so most states provide an alternate to such a contested divorce procedure to lessen this suffering. The judge may order you to participate in court-ordered mediation depending on where you reside. Other states support voluntary or private mediation, in which you and your spouse employ a qualified mediator who can assist you in settling your disputed issues, in order to shorten the divorce process and reduce costs.
In order to try and settle concerns linked to divorce, both spouses engage with a reliable third-party mediator during the mediation process. Since divorce mediation is typically private, neither spouse needs to worry about the other trying to bring up their conversations during the proceedings at the divorce trial.
The mediator will write a marital settlement negotiation with both spouses to sign and submit to the judge if they are able to reach agreement on all or portion of the circumstances of their divorce. After mediation, if there are still unresolved concerns, the spouses may petition a judge to make decisions regarding those particular issues on their behalf.
What About a Settlement?
The spouses have the option to collaborate at any stage of the contentious divorce process to resolve their differences and complete a divorce decree. Couples are encouraged to bargain and try coming up with ideas through the courts. A judge will typically approve the divorce settlement circumstances as long as they are reasonable and serve the child’s best interest (if any).
Even if you submit an agreement to court, you could still be required to appear at a hearing before the judge. To assure that neither spouse coerced the other into the arrangement and that both agree to every provision of the final agreement, judges demand a court hearing.
The Divorce Trial
You will need to request a divorce trial if both you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how to handle your divorce-related concerns. Both spouses’ attorneys will present evidence, summon witnesses, and make their cases before the judge during the divorce trial.
In cases involving child custody, the court may call witnesses from professionals who may describe why that parent is more qualified to raise the children. Divorce trials are costly and time-consuming, and in the end, a judge who is not personally acquainted with your family and all of the details of your case will be the one to draft a final decision settling all divorce-related issues.
More of regarding the divorce trial (NRS125.080).
The Final Judgment
The judge will draft a final judgment for divorce, also known as a divorce decree, once the court has resolved your case. A version of the final instructions will be sent to each spouse, and they both have to abide by them. You should abide by your state’s laws regarding the modification of court orders if you ever need to amend one of the terms (including custody, for example).
A summary of final judgement stated at NRS 125.184.
The provisions of the ultimate judgment will cover:
- Visitation and child custody
- child support
- health insurance
- partition of assets and debts including distribution of retirement funds
- spousal support
- any other matter that the judge deems crucial
Keep a copy of your divorce decree in a secure location or give one to your attorney to keep on your behalf. If you want to change the identity of your driver’s license, Social Security card, or other official papers, you must produce your divorce decree. If you ever want to remarry, you might also be required to present a copy of such a decree.
If you misplace a duplicate of your divorce decree, you can ask the court which issued it for a replacement or submit a request to your town’s vital records office.
What must I do if my spouse seeks a divorce against me?
If you’ve been presented with divorce papers and disagree with any of the conditions your spouse is seeking in divorce, you may have a limited window of time in filing your own documents in response to the divorce petition. You can respond to a “summons with notice” by filing as well as serving the opposite party with a notice for appearance and demand of complaint. If you receive a summons and also a verified complaint, you may respond (or “appear”) in court by submitting and serving a credible answer and counterclaim in which you can demand whatever divorce settlement you desire. Please contact a lawyer for detailed guidance about how to get such notice of court appearance and/or how to complete and serve a verifiable response and counterclaim, particularly if you are unsure which one to file. Proper service involves numerous stages, such as understanding how to deliver a document to the plaintiff, how to complete and submit an affidavit of service, and which documents must be submitted to the court. Generally speaking, it is essential to seek legal advice to make sure that everything has been done correctly.
You will be having a court appearance on a number of occasions as the divorce proceedings move along to address the issues involved. We firmly advise hiring a lawyer to assist and guide you because contested divorces could be extremely complex and difficult.
If you are a person experiencing something like this form of issue and wanting to have a better resolution, Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd. may be able to help you and provide you with more options on this issue as we have a team of skilled attorneys who have worked with family law cases such as divorce cases, lawsuits concerning child custody and support, and more. Despite the nature and complexity of a divorce case, we will work hard and ensure that the outcome as well as the preparation of this matter will come towards the goal.