Divorce Information: How Are Contested Cases Resolved?

In a perfect world, couples looking to divorce are able to settle their differences amicably and come to a decision regarding the legalities involved in their partnership with little trouble. The real word is, of course, less than ideal. A divorce is a highly emotional process, and it wouldn’t be fair to blame couples that find themselves stuck in an impasse regarding several issues. Such issues have been pointed out by Marshall & Taylor, P.C. to include things like child custody, alimony, and property division. When couples reach a point of contention in their divorce, they can decide to leave the court in charge of all major decisions involving their legal affairs.

Any divorce that is complicated with disagreements on important issues is referred to as a contested divorce. To get a contested divorce into the court system, one of the spouses must file a petition and served to the other party. It is best to have this petition prepared and looked over by an experienced lawyer before passing it on to the legal system. While laws may vary from state to state, family court typically awards a spouse 30 days to respond to the petition that had been served to him or her. Failure to deliver a timely response causes the judge to default to a decision in favor of the petitioner.

If, however, the petition is promptly answered, the contested divorce will undergo a period of investigation called a “discovery period.” During this time, both parties and their legal representatives are given the opportunity to build a case through gathering as much information with regards to the issues that will be argued upon in court. It is the hope of the court that this discovery period can help both parties reach a settlement, preventing them from having to go to trial. Should this step fail, a judge will have to hear the case and decide from there.

When, after such a lengthy process, a contested divorce remains unsettled, both parties are allowed a specific time period to file their appeals. Considering how complex and time-consuming this whole process can easily become, it’s best for each party to have qualified legal representatives willing to continuously advocated for their needs.