A Contested Divorce is one that is brought through the court in an adversarial proceeding. Contested means that some or all of the issues in the divorce are not agreed to and as such, are contested. The issues that are contested are determined by the court.
The issues in the divorce case are the grounds for the divorce and the issues of custody and parental rights, financial and property rights, child support, maintenance (also known as alimony), and equitable distribution which is the division of the property and responsibility for the liabilities. These issues will often have a significant impact on the divorcing spouses for many years to come and long after the divorce is done. It is important to achieve the best outcome from the court.
The issue of the grounds for divorce has been eliminated as an issue in the vast majority of cases as New York now permits no-fault divorces (irretrievable breakdown) that negates the need for a contested divorce on the issue of the divorce. Even before the advent of no-fault divorce, the issue of grounds rarely resulted in contested trials.
However, even under no-fault the financial and custodial issues of the case must be resolved before the divorce will be granted. The financial and custodial issues are resolved either by an agreement between the parties or by a determination by the court.
Generally speaking, in a contested divorce there is an exchange of financial information, appraisals of properties and assets who’s values are not apparent (ie. a house or business as compared to a bank account), making orders for temporary (interim) custody, access, support and other issues for matters that have to be provided for while the case is pending. Court appearances are necessary and the parties must appear in court with their attorneys for the appearances (different during the Coronavirus time). The number of court appearances will vary greatly from case to case but there are required court appearances in all contested cases.
Contested Divorces tend to be the most costly, time-consuming and stressful method of divorcing. Either party can require a case to be contested. A contested divorce is most necessary and should be considered where it is apparent that one or both of the parties will not settle out of court, where emergency orders related to children, support, property or other exigent circumstances exist and are necessary, where there is serious domestic violence, where property is being removed, and other situations. A contested divorce will also occur when one of the spouses starts the case as a contested case and does not want to try to resolve it out of court.
In circumstances that call for a Contested Divorce, trying to pursue a Mediation or a Collaborative Divorce can be a waste of money and may cause you to be disadvantaged due to the delay in taking action.
When a Contested Divorce is necessary it should be done from a position of strength, and with purpose and clarity.
Divorce Smart New York.
(646) 860- 8862