What is a Contested Divorce?

June 11, 2024by Adam Sacks

Couples going through contested divorces often do not agree on common issues that are disputed including child custody, alimony, and property division.


What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is a divorce where a couple is unable to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, which then requires the intervention of a court to resolve the issues. In contested divorce cases, several critical issues are commonly disputed between the parties.

One of the most contentious issues is child custody, as both parents often have different views on what is in the best interest of the child. Disputes over visitation rights, decision-making authority, and parental responsibilities can arise during these proceedings.

Another key issue disputed in contested divorces is alimony, also known as spousal support. Determining the amount and duration of support payments can be complex, as it depends on factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, and the financial needs of the recipient.

The division of assets may be disputed as spouses often disagree on how to distribute shared property, investments, and debts.


What is a Contested Divorce?


Steps Involved in The Process of Contesting a Divorce

Contesting a divorce can be a complex and lengthy process.

The first step in contesting a divorce is for one spouse to file a petition with the court. This petition outlines the grounds for divorce and the desired outcome. After the petition is filed, both parties engage in the discovery process. This involves gathering relevant information, such as financial records, property evaluations, and testimonies from witnesses. Discovery can be time-consuming as both sides exchange and review documents.

Following the discovery phase, the spouses and their attorneys attempt to negotiate and reach a settlement agreement. This can involve mediation or direct negotiation sessions, with the goal of resolving the issues outside of court. If a compromise cannot be reached during negotiation, the case proceeds to trial. Each side presents their arguments and evidence, and witnesses may be called to testify.

The judge or jury then reviews the evidence and makes a decision on the divorce terms, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.

This decision is legally binding and establishes the rights and obligations of each party. If a compromise is reached early on, the case does not have to go through all of these steps. Mediation or negotiation can lead to a settlement before trial, saving time, money, and emotional stress.


Timeline for Contesting a Divorce and Expected Legal Proceedings

When a divorce is contested, one spouse files a petition for divorce in the appropriate court. In response, the other spouse has a designated period, often 20-30 days, to file a response.

Mediation, which involves a neutral third-party mediator facilitating negotiations between the spouses, is often a step taken to expedite the process. In mediation, the couple works towards resolving their disagreements in a more amicable manner. This can significantly reduce the time spent in court and the overall duration of the divorce proceedings.

If mediation fails to produce an agreement, the next step may be arbitration. In arbitration, an arbitrator, similar to a judge, reviews the evidence and listens to arguments presented by both parties. The arbitrator then makes a binding decision on the issues in question. Arbitration can bypass the need for a trial which speeds things up, or it can extend the proceedings if additional hearings or arguments are required.


Timeline for Contesting a Divorce and Expected Legal Proceedings


If you are interested in contesting your divorce, contact the experienced divorce attorneys at Sacks & Sacks who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.



Q. How long does a contested divorce take to finalize?

The duration of a contested divorce varies depending on the complexity of the issues and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement. It can take several months to years to resolve all disputes and obtain a final divorce decree. [1]

Q. What are the costs associated with a contested divorce?

Contested divorces can be expensive due to attorney fees, court costs, and other related expenses. Costs can range significantly based on the complexity of the case and the duration of the legal process. [2]

Q. What are the common reasons for a contested divorce?

Common reasons include disagreements over child custody, child support, division of marital property, and spousal support (alimony). Each party may have different views on what is fair or may be unwilling to compromise. [3]



[1] How Long Does A Divorce Take? – Forbes Advisor. (n.d.). Www.forbes.com. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/divorce/how-long-does-divorce-take/#contested_vs_uncontested_divorce_section

[2] Michon, K., & Attorney. (n.d.). How Much Will My Divorce Cost and How Long Will It Take? https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ctp/cost-of-divorce.html

‌[3] Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce. (2018, August 31). Justia. https://www.justia.com/family/divorce/the-divorce-process/contested-vs-uncontested-divorce/

by Adam Sacks

Adam Sacks is lead Family Law Attorney at Law Offices of Sacks & Sacks, P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida. He has a BA in Psychology from 1994, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1999 from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

Sacks and Sacks Law
1646 Emerson St. Suite B Jacksonville, FL 32207

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