When going through a divorce, important matters regarding division of assets, spousal support, child support, and child custody must be decided on. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on these issues, the court can make the decision for you. This type of legal action is known as a contested divorce.
If your divorce is contested, having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side is crucial. Your lawyer can help you file the necessary paperwork and act as your advocate during the proceedings. If you are the one initiating the divorce, your lawyer can also help you submit your divorce petition to the court and request a hearing regarding the issues that are being contested.
Unlike an uncontested divorce, where you and your spouse come to court with the terms of your settlement, a judge must make a ruling in a contested divorce case. Because this may take some time, your lawyer can help you request a hearing to establish temporary divorce orders. These orders, which remain in effect until the divorce is final, may settle matters involving alimony, child support, and custody.
When the divorce process starts, your attorney may file a discovery motion to collect evidence from your spouse. This can include tax returns, earning statements, retirement plan information, credit card bills, and property deeds. Your lawyer can use this evidence when calculating the amount of spousal and/or child support that should be awarded and asking for division of assets and debts.
After each side has had a chance to prepare their case, either your attorney or your spouse’s attorney can request a final divorce hearing. During this hearing, each side will have an opportunity to present evidence to the judge, who will take it into consideration when deciding how to distribute property and settle custody and support matters. If your case is relatively cut and dry, the judge may make an immediate ruling; however, complicated cases may take more time. Once the judge issues the divorce orders, the divorce is final.