What is Contested Divorce?
While we’ve all heard horror stories about divorces that lasted for years due to contention between the parties, it is actually much more common for divorcing couples to work out custody plans, child support arrangements, and property division among themselves during out-of-court negotiations. This is not to say that there are not actual real-life cases where a couple’s refusal to negotiate leads to a years long battle over property division or alimony payments. The former are known as uncontested divorces and in many cases, can be resolved within three months of filing. The latter, on the other hand, are referred to as contested divorces, and almost always end with a court stepping in and creating a parenting plan if the couple has children or drafting a property settlement agreement. Retaining an attorney in either type of divorce is a good idea, but it is especially critical in contested divorces, so if you have decided to file for divorce and are already facing hostility from your spouse, it is important to speak with an experienced contested divorce attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.
Filing for Divorce
To initiate divorce proceedings, one party must file a petition with the court and serve it to the other party, who will then be required to respond. At this point, a judge will review the petition and the parties will need to begin collecting financial information, witness testimonies, and a list of all assets and property. This is known as the discovery process and can go on for months if the parties aren’t willing to come to an out-of-court agreement about important issues, such as child support, alimony, property division, and parenting time.
Going to Trial
Once the discovery process has terminated, the parties involved in a contested divorce will need to go to trial, where a judge will create a parenting plan if necessary and draft a property division agreement. Florida courts are not required to distribute a divorcing couple’s property equally, but are only directed to distribute it equitably, or fairly. For this reason, gathering financial information about income and assets is extremely important, as a failure to list or appraise an asset could lead to an unfair division. Courts will also take into consideration each spouse’s role in caring for the children and whether one spouse was instrumental in furthering the career of the other. While Florida law presumes that joint parenting is in the best interests of most children, a court could decide to give full physical custody to one parent and grant visitation to the other parent if there is evidence of abuse, neglect, or an unwillingness to work with the other spouse.
Call Today to Learn More About the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces are usually concluded much more quickly and at less cost than contested divorces, which tend to be not only expensive and time-consuming, but also stressful, especially for children. Unfortunately, despite one party’s best efforts, a contested divorce is often inevitable. For help with your own divorce, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale contested divorce attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.