What is a Contested Divorce in California?
A contested divorce—one in which the two spouses can’t reach an agreement on something—isn’t as uncommon as you think, whether you’re in Stockton or a neighboring community.
In fact, many couples have a tough time seeing eye-to-eye during the divorce process. While many contested divorces do end up becoming collaborative divorces, many people end up litigating and letting their judge make the final decisions on matters such as child custody, spousal support, and other issues.
But what is the definition of contested divorce, and what should you do if you’re headed for one?
Contested Divorce: The Definition
A contested divorce is one in which the two parties can’t reach an agreement on one or more issues. (Contrary to popular belief, a contested divorce doesn’t take place when one party doesn’t want the divorce. In the state of California, you can get a divorce without both parties agreeing to it.)
Why Should You Try to Work With Your Spouse?
Any Stockton divorce lawyer can tell you that litigation can be costly—and it can be time-consuming, too. Dragging out your divorce process doesn’t really benefit anyone (including your children, if you have them), which means it’s best to settle as quickly and as fairly as possible.
When you and your spouse can agree on some issues, you’re off to a good start. The more you can agree on during the divorce process, the faster the process will move; each issue you agree to is one less for your attorneys to argue over in court or for the judge to decide.
While judges do their best to remain fair and impartial, the fact is that nobody knows your family—or what’s right for your family—as well as you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse do. You’ll be able to make a better, more fair decision than the judge will because you know all your family’s needs, quirks, and desires; the judge only knows you through what he or she has seen on paper from your attorneys.
What Happens if You’re Part of a Contested Divorce?
If you and your spouse ultimately cannot agree on one or more issues, you’re part of a contested divorce. The issues you can’t resolve will go to trial, and sometimes one issue stands apart from the rest and has its own trial.
The court will issue a final judgment on the matter, whether it’s child custody, the validity of a prenuptial agreement, or something else, and at that point, it becomes a legally binding order. That means you have to abide by what the judge rules, even if you’re not happy with it or it doesn’t work out in your favor.
You can, eventually, go back and petition the court to revisit its decision. However, that’s not always successful… and you’ll have to go through the entire legal process again (typically paying attorney’s fees along the way).
Ultimately, it’s better if you and your spouse can reach as many agreements as possible before you end up in a Stockton divorce court.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Attorney About a Contested Divorce?
If you need to talk to a lawyer for case-specific legal advice about your divorce, whether or not it’s contested, we’re here to help.
Call us at 209-910-9865 to speak with a Stockton divorce attorney right now. We’ll evaluate your case and give you the advice you need to begin moving forward.