Contested Divorce

Florida Divorce Lawyer

There are a multitude of issues and opportunities for dispute in a divorce. Though ideally, a couple would be able to reach an agreement on every issue in a divorce, this is not always possible and in instances of domestic violence, may not be advisable. A contested divorce happens when spouses cannot come to an amicable agreement out of court. If you are considering a divorce in Florida, an attorney can help you work toward an amicable and speedy settlement.

Disputes

In a contested divorce, the spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more terms of the divorce. The dispute can be as basic as whether to get a divorce. In Florida, the grounds for divorce are the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or one spouse’s mental incapacity, and if one spouse maintains that the grounds for divorce do not exist, the divorce is a contested one.

Other potential issues facing a divorcing couple include:

  • Valuing and dividing marital assets;
  • The amount and duration of alimony payments;
  • Custody and visitation arrangements;
  • Child support calculations; and
  • Any other issue in a divorce.
Process

The divorce process is begun by filing a petition for dissolution and serving it on the other spouse. In the petition, the petitioning spouse alleges the grounds for the divorce and requests relief on each potential issue. The spouse then generally files an answer with a counter-petition, addressing the issues of the divorce.

The next step is conducting the discovery process. Each spouse must provide a financial affidavit and produce certain financial records, including tax returns, pay stubs, retirement account information, insurance information, and an inventory of the spouse’s assets.

In a contested divorce, the judge may order the spouses to attend mediation to attempt to resolve their differences outside of court, with the help of a neutral third party. If the parties cannot reach an agreement at mediation, then there will be a hearing on some or all of the issues. The judge will then make a decision based on the each spouse’s situation and the best interests of any children.

One potential problem with a court hearing is that the judge has the final say. In negotiation and mediation, the spouses may have to compromise, but in the end, they get to decide whether to accept a compromise. In court, however, the judge’s decision is final, and the spouses have no authority to turn it down if it is unacceptable to them.

Cost

Contested divorces are more expensive than uncontested divorces, in part because they take more time, which drives up the cost. Contested divorces also give rise to other expenses, including court costs, discovery expenses, expert fees, and attorney’s fees incurred in preparation for litigation.

The cost of the divorce will depend upon how many disputes there are. If there are only a few issues to be resolved in court, the divorce is likely to cost only a few thousand dollars, but if there are many disagreements, the total can be tens of thousands of dollars.

If you are contemplating divorce, please call West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein at 561-533-1221 to schedule a free consultation.