CONTESTED DIVORCE: BASIC STEPS/NEED TO KNOW
When you and your spouse do not agree on one or more areas of the divorce, you need to file a contested divorce. Here are the required steps in a contested divorce.
1. Petition for Divorce
A Petition for Divorce is filed with the court. The petition includes information required by the court regarding you, your spouse, and the marriage. It will also advise the court on any issues including property, spousal support, and the custody and support of any minor children.
2. Service of Process
The spouse that files the divorce must have complete service of process on the other spouse. This is normally done using a process server.
3. Filing the Answer
After receiving service of the petition, your spouse will have a specific number of days to file their answer. Often in contested divorces in addition to filing an answer, the spouse will also file a counter-petition. This presents the spouse’s position regarding the divorce and states what they are seeking in the divorce.
Discovery is a process in which the attorneys, or parties, exchange information in a formal process. This allows them to work on a settlement and prepare for trial. This can include information such as bank records, property values, appraisals, and criminal records.
5. Final Divorce Hearing
This is a hearing, or trial, to finalize the divorce. The judge will make a determination on any items which the parties have not agreed to. The final divorce decree will also be signed, which contains the final divorce settlement.