What to Expect in a Contested Divorce

When two soon-to-be former spouses can’t agree on the terms of their divorce, it will be considered a contested divorce and will need to be approached more aggressively. Hiring a knowledgeable Irvine contested divorce lawyer with experience in litigating divorce cases in court is a great first step toward putting this difficult experience behind you. 

Once you’ve hired your attorney, it’s important to be prepared for the road ahead. Below, we review some of the things you can expect to occur on your road to divorce.

You Will Need to Gather Many Documents

Your attorney will ask you to gather documents that reveal the assets you jointly owned and any information about your spending and child care or support budget that can set the stage for your divorce petition. This will give your attorney a distinct sense of the assets you may be entitled to or what you might wish to ask of your former spouse with respect to alimony or child support payments. This paperwork will be important evidence in your divorce proceedings and will be good for you to keep on hand, as well.

Your Attorney Will Serve Your Spouse

Once your attorney has completed your divorce petition and filed it with the court, they will be serving your spouse with the petition. This will occur either in person, by mail, or be completed by a deputy sheriff. If you’re having trouble locating or serving your spouse, a notice will be published in the local newspapers, but you might have to wait longer to actually initiate the proceedings. 

Your Spouse Will Respond to the Petition

California law requires your spouse to respond to your divorce petition within 30 days. The response entails filing their answers to your demands in a petition that will essentially spell out what you’re fighting for in court. If your spouse fails to respond to your petition, then you will be awarded a default judgment, and your spouse will be ordered to deliver everything requested within your divorce petition. This might include how your assets will be divided, who will care for your children, and how much child support payment they will be required to pay. 

If your spouse does respond to the petition, then the divorce proceedings will officially begin.

Prepare for Discovery

Remember when you were asked to compile documents for your Irvine contested divorce lawyer? Those documents will once again be needed for the court to undergo the discovery process that pertains to your divorce. Discovery is when each of the parties to the divorce proceeding is given time to request and review documents from the other party in an effort for the court to piece together the specific circumstances of your marriage. Depending on these findings, the court will determine what might be a fair and equitable distribution of assets, decide to award custody to one spouse or the other, and how much child support might be required after the divorce.

Your Irvine Contested Divorce Lawyer Will Try to Settle or Proceed With a Trial

Depending on the circumstances of your case, your former spouse’s lawyer and your own Irvine contested divorce lawyer may be able to negotiate a settlement offer in light of the documents put forth in discovery. Or, you will continue to be unable to see eye-to-eye, and the matter will proceed to trial. In either case, it’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side – so don’t hesitate to contact our offices when you’re ready to get started.