Over 782,000 divorces occur each year in the US. It can be a sad and confusing process, but it’s made even worse when both parties can’t agree on the outcome of the divorce.
This is known as a contested divorce. Simply, it means both spouses are unable to agree on how the divorce will be finalized.
This is often due to disagreements around child custody, finances, and distribution of assets, such as property.
Are you wondering how to contest a divorce? If it’s something you’re experiencing, keep reading to find out all of the steps when it comes to contesting a tricky divorce.
Try to Discuss the Divorce With Your Spouse
The first step in contesting a divorce is to try to work it out between one another. If you can work out the details between you both, it will save you time, stress, and money, so it’s worth trying.
Contact your spouse and ask if they’d be willing to sit down and have a polite, respectful, and honest conversation about what you’d both like out of the divorce. This is especially important if you have children, as the last thing you want is to have to involve them in any sort of legal proceedings.
Although you’re separated, try to remember that you once have a strong love for another, so treat the other person with care and kindness, as much as possible.
In a contested divorce, if there is no solution, the next step would be to attend mediation. This is where both parties sit down with a mediator, who is an unbiased and neutral third party.
They are often someone with experience in conflict resolution and will work with you to talk through the issues that are causing the conflicts and come up with a solution that will best suit you both.
Often, having a third party involved can help to keep the discussions focused and on target, without breaking down into arguments.
Working with a mediator can be a fantastic alternative to going to court, so it’s a step you don’t want to skip.
Hire a Lawyer
If mediation has failed, it’s time to take things to the next level and hire a divorce attorney. However, if your issues are specific to custody and issues with the children, then look for a divorce attorney that’s also experienced in family law and custody cases.
These cases are usually tried in family court, which is different from divorce court. Plenty of lawyers are skilled in both areas though.
You’ll want to hire an experienced, skilled local divorce lawyer that can represent your interests in court. If your divorce is at the point where it needs to be discussed in court, it’s likely complex, involving children, assets, infidelity, or serious disagreements.
Once you’ve reached the point where you feel like you’re no longer capable of negotiating with your spouse, the best option is to hire a lawyer who can represent your case.
They’ll take the time to understand all of the facets of your case and will then work out your best legal strategy for getting desirable results.
Let the Attorneys Negotiate for Both Parties
After you’ve hired a lawyer, it’s likely that your spouse will have also hired their own lawyer. Once both sides have been fully briefed, then both lawyers will meet for a private negotiation.
At this stage, there’s no judge or courts involved—it’s simply between the two lawyers to hammer out a solution for their clients. Hopefully, the skills and professionalism of your lawyer will be enough to settle the case.
Prepare and Attend Trial
If negotiations fail, then the case will need to go to trial. This means the outcome of the case will need to be determined by a judge.
Both parties will get the chance to argue their side of the story, with the judge hearing all the arguments before making a decision based on their own experience, the law, and previous court decisions.
Keep in mind that going to court can end up being very expensive, and there’s the chance that very private parts of your life can be discussed in a public forum. For some people, this can be emotional and stressful, so it’s best to avoid going to court unless you absolutely have to.
Most cases are settled quickly, but it’s possible that they can go on for several weeks.
File for Appeal
If you disagree with the decision made by the judge in your case, your last option is generally to file for an appeal. Your lawyer can let you know if asking for an appeal is likely to have an impact on your case.
If so, they can file all of the paperwork on your behalf. Filing for an appeal is basically asking another judge, higher up in the courts, to review the decision made by the previous judge.
Use These Tips to Learn How to Contest a Divorce
Now that you know how to contest a divorce, you can use the steps above to navigate the divorce process. It’s never easy to go through a divorce, but it’s even harder when you and your spouse can’t agree on the outcomes.
If you’re going through a contested divorce, try your best to remain calm, optimistic, and to look after your mental well-being. While it’s a trying time, hopefully, you can get through it as smoothly as possible and then move forward with your life.
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