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Posted On October 20, 2021

What to Expect in a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is the most complicated type of divorce because spouses are unable to agree on at least one or more divorce-related issues.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

Few divorcing couples agree on every part of a divorce, but many find a way to come to terms that both parties are willing to accept. When couples just cannot find a way to agree on divorce issues or negotiate an agreeable plan, the divorce becomes a contested divorce, where the court intervenes on the spouses’ behalf to find the best options.

When couples cannot agree on an aspect of their divorce, it becomes a “contested divorce.” A contested divorce usually creates complications and prolongs the divorce process. A court judge and a family law attorney become part of finalizing the divorce. The following divorce terms must be negotiated by the court:

  • Division of marital assets
  • Spousal support
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Visitation schedules
  • Parenting time

Divorces can be contested in two ways: 1) if the couple cannot come to an agreement on divorce terms, and/or 2) if one spouse chooses to pursue grounds for the divorce rather than a no-fault divorce. Under Indiana laws, the only grounds for divorce other than a no-fault divorce are 1) impotence, 2) incurable insanity for at least two years, and/or 3) a felony conviction (by either spouse).

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is easier and faster than a contested divorce because couples can end their marriage without constant negotiations between each party’s family law attorney, ongoing legal fees, and delayed or postponed court hearings. An uncontested divorce process also helps to maintain a better relationship between spouses, which is especially important when children are involved.

Contested Divorce

Typically, a contested divorce is lengthier and more expensive, but there can be advantages. If one spouse suspects the other is hiding assets, a discovery process can uncover them. During discovery, both sides can submit written questions (interrogatories) and request documents that show proof of assets and bank accounts. One party can also depose the other party for pretrial testimony, which helps family law attorneys prepare evidence for trial.

During the trial, both spouses are allowed to present witnesses, and attorneys can cross-examine witnesses and present closing arguments. After every proceeding is concluded, the court will issue a final order based on the judge’s decisions to finalize the divorce.

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