When divorcing spouses cannot agree on financial or custody issues, the divorce becomes a contested divorce. It does not matter if one or several issues remain unresolved. The divorce will still be considered contested and, unless both parties are able to reach an agreement, the case will be taken to trial for a resolution, which will be ordered by a family court judge.
Not every disagreement between parties equates to a contested divorce. For example, if a spouse is against the relief requested in a divorce petition, but does not file a response in time, the case is not contested. For a divorce to be contested, both spouses must have filed conflicting pleadings that demonstrate their disagreement on the issues of their divorce.
Taking a divorce all the way to trial can become financially and emotionally costly to both sides, especially if children are involved. Mediation is one of the best ways to try to work toward a settlement that both parties find mutually agreeable. During mediation, a neutral third party will join you and your spouse and help facilitate effective negotiations. The mediator’s job is not to choose sides, but rather to help both spouses find common ground to avoid going to court. If you are able to reach an agreement out of court, this could help save you money and potential heartache. Additionally, it will keep your case private. If your divorce goes to court, it becomes part of public record and you relinquish your privacy.
If issues remain unresolved after efforts to reach a settlement outside of court, the next step would be to prepare for trial. Some courts might order a settlement conference prior to your trial, requiring you and your spouse to file a settlement conference statement, which should detail any unresolved issues.
California allows divorcing spouses to request a separate trial limited to either one or several unresolved issues, which is intended to streamline the litigation process and focus on only critical issues. Issues that are usually tried in separate trials include matters relating to child custody, spousal support, and the validity of a prenuptial agreement. When a divorce case concludes, the court will issue a judgement to resolve the contested issues, which can also include an award of attorney fees, if raised in the filings.
If there is a sizable amount of property, assets, or debts involved in your divorce, it might be best for the court to oversee a decision rather than subjecting yourself to an agreement that might not serve your best interests. If domestic violence was a factor in your marriage, an uncontested divorce could be a dangerous option, opening the door for manipulation and continued abuse. Figuring out the best course of action for your divorce can be difficult, however, which is why seeking skilled representation is a crucial step.
At The Edmunds Law Firm, we can help guide you through the process and answer any questions that may arise. Our family law firm has been advocating for clients since 1976 and can do the same for you. Regardless of the nature of your divorce, our San Diego divorce attorneys are prepared to effectively represent you and ensure your best interests are protected. You should not have to endure this difficult time on your own.
Contact our experienced San Diego legal team today at toll free (760) 634-7630. We provide free consultations.