What is the Difference Between Contested Divorce and Uncontested Divorce?
Divorce can be traumatic enough, but some legal processes can drag proceedings out unnecessarily, keeping one member of the fractured marriage from moving on. When a divorce is contested by one of the involved parties, the other party often wants to know if there is anything that can be done. Are you helpless, forced to wait until the other person finally capitulates? Or is there something you can do to proceed despite the obstacles. Here are a few obstacles that can create a contested divorce, causing the couple to remain married even when one or both people want out.
Children and Child Support
When a couple divorces, it's unfortunate. When a couple divorces and children are involved, it can be tragic. The court is primarily concerned with the welfare of the children, naturally, but this can complicate things, especially when those children are used as bargaining chips in the divorce process.
It's to be understood that child custody issues can easily stall the divorce process. Custody is complicated, especially when both parents want primary custody. If one parent wants to cut the other out of seeing the children as much as possible, for instance, the divorce process could stall as attorneys try to get the couple to agree on an arrangement. Joint custody, where parents share equal time, is an option. In the case of joint custody, parents also make decisions equally as parents. This is ideal for the children but is tough to work out with warring parents.
Sole custody is the most common custody arrangement, with one parent having primary custody while the other parent has a legally-agreed-upon visitation schedule. This is often every other weekend and Wednesday nights, as well as alternating holidays, but many courts are willing to allow parents the flexibility to create the schedule that work for them.
Division of Assets and Support
Money is said to be the number one cause of divorce, so it's understandable that finances can also keep a couple from amicably divorcing. In a contested divorce, two parties can spend months and even years arguing over household assets. Something as little as a piece of jewelry can stall the process months, even years, before a judge even sees the case.
In no-fault divorces, where a divorce is granted without one party being named as "at fault," assets are generally divided equally. This is pursuant to divorce laws in the state where you live, so check with an attorney to determine if this applies to you. Even when assets are divide fairly and evenly, negotiations can drag on endlessly as couples hedge on issues like division of home equity, especially if one party elects to stay in the house after the divorce is final.
In the end, if a couple cannot come to an agreement the court decides. A court may take into account the financial and/or personal contributions each member of a couple has put into the marriage when determining division of assets. For instance, if one family member worked and the other was a full-time parent, the court may take this into consideration when dividing assets, especially if the full-time parent has been out of the workforce for a while and will be unable to support himself/herself alone.
Refusal to Divorce
There are instances where one party simply does not agree with the divorce. Generally speaking, the law is on the side of the party requesting the divorce in this case. In other words, one person cannot force the other to stay married simply by refusing to sign the papers. The person requesting the divorce is the plaintiff in this case, whereas the person refusing is the defendant. If the defendant is not cooperating, the plaintiff would then need to request permission from the judge to proceed in default. You will be required to gather all information on your assets for your attorney to supply to the court, as well as work with your attorney to set up child custody arrangements and a child support agreement, if applicable. It is then turned over to the judge, who will determine whether or not a divorce can be granted.
Your spouse will have every right to plead his or her case. Generally, a reluctant spouse eventually sees that contesting the divorce is only delaying the inevitable - at great expense - however, in the interim the plaintiff can take steps to keep things rolling along to save time once the spouse finally does sign the papers.
Obviously, an uncontested divorce saves time and money, resulting in a divorce being granted in as little as a couple of months from the initial filing in some states. However, when a case is contested, by hiring a talented, knowledgeable attorney, you can save time and money and get things finalized as quickly and painlessly as possible.
The Law Office of Dame and Lucas understands divorce is not an easy time and represents each client fighting for their needs and desired out come. Please call us today 603-581-7102.