Process of a Contested Divorce
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
- prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition (legal paperwork asking for the divorce and stating the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage)
- respond to the petition
- interview and hire a divorce attorney
- engage in “divorce discovery” – the information gathering process, which involves various legal procedures to get information from your spouse and third-
- party witnesses (e.g., written questions, subpoenas, and depositions)
- pre-trial legal motions and hearings
- settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
- if settlement fails, prepare for trial
- complete a court trial, and
- file an appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s).
During the settlement phase, spouses are often unable to resolve issues. Although the divorce judge may encourage spouses to work things out, the next step is divorce court when that doesn’t happen.
During the trial, both spouses present witnesses, and their lawyers cross-examine the witnesses and present closing arguments. After the trial is over, the court will issue a final order memorializing all of the judge’s decisions and finalize the divorce.
Divorce—especially contested divorces—are complex. Therefore, spouses in a contested divorce should definitely speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can inform them of their legal rights and ensure they are fully protected.