Divorce is not something anyone expects to experience when they plan their wedding. It’s not something you want to face. Some divorces are amicable and end on mutual terms. There are others that are not so lucky. Some, even though desired by both spouses, can get contentious.
The easiest type of divorce, if there is such a thing, is an “uncontested” divorce. This means both spouses have filed the necessary paperwork and they agree to all of the divorce-related issues. This includes alimony, child custody and support, and the division of property and debts. If you’ve already reached a settlement you can bring your agreement and the necessary divorce paperwork to the court. Then, a judge will review it, issue orders based on that agreement, and grant you a divorce.
A contested divorce occurs when you or your spouse want to contest one or more of the issues in the divorce paperwork. These issues need to be resolved during the divorce process. Many contested divorces revolve around the same major issues including a division of marital assets, the amount and length of alimony, and child custody and visitation issues.
Whoever initiates the contested divorce needs to file a legal petition in family court. Only the party filing for divorce will be required to sign the paperwork. The other party will be notified of the petition once the paperwork is filed. A sheriff or licensed process server will take care of notifying them. They will inform the other party of the petition and will give them a court date to address the matter.
A contested divorce means that the other spouse will not willingly agree to accept and sign the divorce papers. When this happens the court must hold a hearing to resolve any immediate issues. This is temporary and there will need to be a final trial to resolve all issues permanently. The court will divide all marital property and debt, establish custody, establish child support and decide if alimony is warranted. The court will generally require both parties to attend a mediation process to resolve the issues amicably if possible. If the parties do reach an agreement in mediation, the agreement will be written up in a settlement agreement. Then, it needs to be signed by both parties and submitted to the court for approval in lieu of a final trial.
Divorce by Default
If the other spouse refuses to attend court hearings or negotiations then the filing spouse may request a default divorce. A default divorce proceeding will allow the divorce to take place. It will often grant the filing spouse’s original terms for the divorce. In a default divorce, the judge may grant the division of property and debt, child support, child custody, and alimony based on what the filing spouse requests. The requests will be a part of the court’s Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce once the court approves it.
Davis, Ermis, & Roberts, P.C.
To make it through this process you need an experienced attorney who can guide you through each of these difficult issues in a way that minimizes conflict and helps you deal with unavoidable factors that may arise. Davis, Ermis & Roberts has many years of experience helping people like you do just that! Contact us today to learn how we can help you survive—and thrive—during and after your divorce.