An individual should prepare for a contested divorce by seeking the advice of three licensed and qualified professionals, a divorce attorney, a therapist, and an accountant. Your divorce attorney will represent or advise the individual about court proceedings. The therapist is there to help the individual develop a strategy to remain calm. The accountant is present to give the individual an understanding of how much the contested divorce may cost. The individual should work on a one to three-year plan with the accountant to learn how the divorce may impact their finances in the near future.
If the individual suspects their former partner has been hiding money or assets, they should talk to their attorney about hiring a forensic accountant. The forensic accountant investigates the former partner’s financial transactions to make sure the former partner is being honest. If the individual has a former partner that is emotionally and/or physically abusive, they should also consult a domestic violence advocate. They may need to develop strategies on how to interact with their former partner to avoid confrontations, anger, and exhaustion.
The definition of a contested divorce
In a contested divorce, the parties are in conflict over some aspect of the divorce, such as child custody or spousal support. The parties can hire a mediator to try and resolve disputes. An individual should be prepared for this not to work.
The individual should also be prepared for the nature and subject of the dispute to change. At first, a former partner may focus on financial issues. Then the former partner may focus on child custody. Later the former partner may attempt to call off the divorce. The individual should talk to their therapist about how to deal with different scenarios.
Steps of a contested divorce
A contested divorce typically begins with meeting a divorce attorney. The individual will then gather relevant documents like titles to real property and tax returns to share with their attorney. If the individual is consulting an attorney but wants to file for divorce themselves, they can go to your State’s Administrative Court website and see if there are helpful forms to do it yourself.
An individual with children who is preparing for a contested divorce should keep a custody journal. They should note how their former partner behaves throughout the divorce proceedings. The information that they collect may help them in custody proceedings. The individual should note problematic behavior by their former partner, such as trying to use the children to find out financial information. The individual should talk with their divorce attorney about how to counter such behavior.
The individual should then prepare and file the appropriate forms with the court. The individual will file the proof of service of the forms upon their former partner with the court. The individual should expect a response from their former partner. Both parties may make pretrial motions.
The next phase of the case is discovery. This involves the two parties disclosing documents relating to the divorce through their attorneys. During this process, the parties may be negotiating to reach a settlement. If there is no settlement at hand, the two parties will go to trial. Both sides may present witnesses. After the trial, both sides may appeal the ruling and make post-trial motions.
It is very difficult to go through a contested divorce. As an individual completes each step in the process, they should mark it as an achievement with their therapist. They should then reward themselves for being persistent and patient. An individual who works well with their attorney to finish the process should be proud of what they have accomplished.