Things can get complicated in a contested divorce. If you are ready to seek a divorce from your spouse or domestic partner, and anticipate their reluctance to proceed quickly and fairly through the divorce process, you may be headed for a thorny experience. Things can get sticky in these situations, requiring the help of a local Santa Rosa divorce attorney.
Putting Together the Initial Divorce Petition
As you and your attorney draft the divorce petition, you will go over relevant documents to make decisions relating to the division of marital assets and debt, issues related to child custody, child support, and spousal support. For example, if minor children are involved a form FL-105 (UCCJEA) must be filed, but those are items your attorney will take care of in addition to providing guidance as to the legal expectations of a fair settlement.
If You can Not Locate Your Spouse/Domestic Partner
In the event you do not know where your spouse/partner is, you will be forced to go through a process to notify them of your plans. A notice must be posted in local newspapers for several months before you can proceed any further.
The Papers Have Been Served, but are Contested
Your spouse or domestic partner has the legal right to challenge the request. If your spouse or partner agrees to parts of the document, but not others, they can simply write up their position, clearly stating what they support and what they contest. The Response form must be returned within 30 days of getting the Petition. From here, there are a couple of options:
- Seek mediation as a way to come to an equitable agreement that both parties can accept;
- Proceed to court and let a judge decide.
Contested Divorce and The Discovery Process
During the discovery process, both parties may request documentation and details related to assets, debt, income, and any other pertinent information. This may occur through depositions, written interrogatories, or requests for documents. There will be deadlines to respond to these requests, and, if there is foot dragging and/or deadlines are missed, your attorney can help to move things along. Meanwhile, the court may order temporary child support and/or spousal support until the divorce is finalized.
Both sides will be able to call character witnesses or other experts, and will be allowed to cross-examine opposing witnesses. Both parties may restate their case in a closing argument. At that point, it is all in the hands of the judge. Continue reading →