If you’re unhappy with any legal offerings during your divorce, you’re looking at a contested divorce. Keep reading to learn why people contest divorces.
Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful life experiences. Things get even more stressful if children are involved or you and your ex are arguing about the breakup.
Luckily, a contested divorce is an option if you can’t reach an agreement with your ex. While contesting a divorce may sound dramatic, sometimes, it’s the best solution for both parties. What is a contested divorce? Why should you contest one?
Read on to learn about the most common reasons for a contested divorce.
What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is a divorce where both parties cannot resolve their issues, so they need a family court judge to help resolve the case. Contested divorces are very common, and you likely know someone who has gone through a contested divorce.
Issues that may lead to a contested divorce include child support, alimony, the division of assets, and more. Most people hire lawyers when contesting a divorce, as many legal factors are at play. To prepare for a contested divorce hearing, both parties often need to procure documents, find expert character witnesses, gather evidence, and perform investigations. Luckily, your divorce lawyer can help you through the entire process.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is defined as a divorce where both parties resolve their issues by themselves. Many times, uncontested divorces still involve the help of attorneys. They may also involve the help of mediators, co-parenting counselors, financial advisors, and parent coordinators.
However, the courtroom is not necessarily off-limits in an uncontested divorce. In certain circumstances, the judge may be needed to resolve temporary issues, such as who lives in the marital residence during the legal proceedings.
Keep in mind that an uncontested divorce is not necessarily easier than a contested divorce. Just like contested divorces, uncontested divorces can also get messy, so it’s important to prepare yourself for potential conflicts.
It’s also important to note that all divorces begin as contested ones. You’ll need to sign an agreement stating that both parties agree to settle out of court to move your divorce into the uncontested category.
Reasons for a Contested Divorce
So, when is it a good idea to bring your divorce case in front of a judge? Here are some of the top reasons people contest their divorces.
Mediation Isn’t Working
Mediation is the process in which spouses meet with a trained, neutral mediator to settle their divorce. Sessions typically happen in a mediator’s office, but they can also take place online or in another neutral space.
Divorce mediators can help spouses settle their issues, after which they’ll file for an uncontested divorce with the court. Mediation can result in significant savings and a faster resolution, and it can give you more control over the outcome of your divorce.
However, mediation does not always work. With mediation, you’re on your own, and you won’t have someone negotiating for you. It’s you vs. your spouse, with the mediator there as an unbiased party. And while qualified mediators know divorce law and can point you in the right direction for legal information, they’re banned from giving you legal advice.
Additionally, mediators shouldn’t be sought out if there is a power imbalance in the relationship. For example, if you’ve been abused by your partner, seeking mediation isn’t usually the best idea.
Issues with Marital Assets
Dividing marital assets can be a huge headache. Everyone wants their fair share in a divorce, but the definition of “fair share” can vary significantly within a relationship.
In some cases, one spouse will even attempt to conceal their assets from the other spouse, making the situation even more difficult. However, because contested divorces are litigated, everyone will have access to the discovery process of identifying assets, putting both parties on a more equal playing field.
Child Support and Custody Issues
Child custody is often the most contentious issue in a divorce, so it’s no wonder it leads many spouses to seek a contested divorce. If you and your spouse aren’t making any progress regarding how you’ll split custody, you may want to seek a contested divorce.
You may also want to seek a contested divorce if you and your spouse are disagreeing on how much child support needs to be paid.
Alimony is another issue that can be difficult to resolve during a divorce. In a contested divorce, one party needs to prove that they gave up significant opportunities throughout the marriage in order to qualify for financial support. For example, you may qualify for alimony if you left school to work so you could pay the bills while your partner pursued higher education.
You may also qualify for alimony if you gave up job opportunities to act as a caregiver for a disabled child.
When to Avoid a Contested Divorce
As stated above, a contested divorce isn’t always the best solution. You shouldn’t seek a contested divorce simply because you want to make a big show of things and drag your spouse through the mud.
Even if you believe deep down that your spouse is in the wrong and you should get your way, you can never predict the outcome of a court case. So, don’t seek a contested divorce simply because you want to “win,” as you may end up disappointed with the outcome.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce: Time to Decide
Now that you understand the common reasons for seeking a contested divorce, it’s time to figure out what’s right for you. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between a contested and uncontested divorce right away. Your lawyer can also help you decide what to do.
If you’re seeking a divorce lawyer in Minnesota, contact us today.