Contested Divorce: Is It Worth Contesting a Divorce?
Divorce is never an easy process. Even in amicable, uncontested divorces, there can be a lot of emotional turmoil and logistical challenges involved in untangling two lives. However, most can agree that contested divorces tend to be significantly more difficult, expensive, and drawn out.
So when is it worth contesting a divorce rather than agreeing to an uncontested split? Our Rock Hill divorce lawyer shares the top 5 reasons it might be worth contesting your divorce.
Understanding Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
First, it’s important to understand the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses are able to agree on all aspects of the divorce – including property division, spousal support, child custody and support, and the grounds for the divorce. This allows the divorce to proceed relatively quickly and smoothly since the terms are mutually agreed upon.
In a disputed or contested divorce, either one or both spouses disagree on some aspects of the divorce. This could involve disagreements over property, finances, child-related issues, or the grounds for the divorce. When a divorce is contested, the issues have to go through the full litigation process, including discovery, motions, and possibly a trial, in order for the court to decide on the disputed issues.
Contested divorces take significantly longer to resolve and tend to be much more expensive in legal fees. However, there are times when it may be worth contesting rather than accepting the terms initially proposed by your spouse.
Reasons For Contesting a Divorce
Whether contested or uncontested, divorce does not necessarily mean war. But there are valid reasons you may want to contest your divorce. Here are some common situations when pursuing a contested divorce may be beneficial:
Your Spouse Is Concealing Assets
If you believe your spouse is hiding assets from the court to reduce their share of property division, contesting the divorce could help bring these concealed assets to light. Your attorney can use discovery tools to help uncover any hidden property or accounts.
You Need Financial Support After the Divorce
If you gave up significant education or career opportunities to support your spouse, contest the divorce to get spousal maintenance to gain skills or education to get a good job after the divorce. For example, if you put a spouse through school to get a degree and now need support pursuing your own career.
You Disagree with Parenting Arrangements
If your spouse seeks primary custody, but you believe you are the better parent or should have more visitation, contest the divorce to argue your side. The court will look at both parents’ ability to provide and the child’s best interests.
Your Spouse Was Abusive
If divorcing an abusive spouse, contesting the divorce helps ensure your own safety and ability to protect children from harm through custody restrictions on the abusive spouse.
You Have Other Valid Reasons
There are other valid reasons you may want to contest your divorce. Discuss your concerns with an experienced divorce attorney.
Here’s How Contesting A Divorce Typically Works
- One spouse files a complaint for divorce and serves it to the other spouse.
- The other spouse (called the defendant contests the complaint by disagreeing with any aspect, such as child custody, spousal support, or division of property.
- Contested divorce moves to the discovery phase, where each side gathers information and evidence to support their position. This involves interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas of records, and asset appraisals.
- Attorneys on each side try to negotiate a settlement. If they cannot, the court will make rulings during pre-trial hearings and at trial.
- Ultimately, a judge considers applicable state laws and the evidence presented to make legally binding rulings on any contested areas of the divorce. The judge’s decree finalizes the contested divorce.
While more expensive and time-consuming than an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce can be worthwhile to get fair terms, especially when significant assets or complex custody issues are involved. Work with a family lawyer who advocates effectively for your interests.
Is It Worth Contesting a Divorce? Ask Yourself These Questions.
Whether contesting your divorce is ultimately worthwhile will depend on your specific situation and priorities. Here are some factors to weigh when deciding if litigation is your best course:
- How strongly do you feel about the disputed issues? Is compromising on these matters going to leave you with long-term regrets?
- What are the potential outcomes if you litigate the issues versus compromise or accept your spouse’s terms? Which outcome is more aligned with your key objectives?
- Do you have a strong case with good supporting evidence for your positions? A solid legal case will boost your odds of getting a favorable ruling.
- How much more time will you invest in a longer, more complex legal battle? Contested cases can take a year or more to resolve.
- Can you afford the substantial legal fees and expenses of litigation? Contested divorce costs often total $20,000 to $50,000 or more.
- Are you prepared to accept the risks and uncertainty inherent in letting a judge decide key issues? Trial outcomes are not guaranteed.
- Are you willing and able to withstand the increased emotional toll caused by prolonged conflict with your spouse? The adversarial process tends to magnify tensions.
If your priorities strongly favor fighting for terms that differ from your spouse’s proposals, the benefits of contesting your divorce will likely outweigh the downsides. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can help protect your rights and get you the best possible final orders.
However, with compromise and creativity, many couples are able to resolve contentious issues through negotiation rather than litigation. Weighing your options carefully at the outset can help guide you toward the right divorce process.
Contact A Local Divorce Lawyer For Guidance
If you’re thinking about challenging your divorce, it’s crucial to seek advice from a seasoned attorney. Okoye Law can help in the following ways:
- Advise whether you have valid grounds to contest the divorce based on your specific situation and concerns.
- Handle the discovery process to uncover any hidden assets, unpaid debts, or other information your spouse may be concealing.
- Negotiate aggressively on your behalf to get a fair settlement.
- Represent you vigorously in court if a trial becomes necessary.
- Ensure you get a favorable outcome on issues like child custody, spousal maintenance, and division of marital property.
Ultimately, your lawyer will help you determine if it’s worth getting a contested divorce. Our divorce lawyer has the right skills and experience to build the strongest case possible in a divorce case. Whether contested or uncontested, trying to handle a divorce without a lawyer puts you at a big disadvantage.
Don’t leave the outcome of your divorce up to someone else. Contact us before deciding to contest your divorce. With our team on your side fighting for your rights and interests, you have a much greater likelihood of getting a fair settlement or court ruling.