The term “contested divorce” refers to a divorce proceeding in which the parties cannot reach an agreement on one or more important issues. Typically the areas of conflict that are the most disputed are, naturally, the most important issues, such as:
- PARENTING DECISIONS
- CHILD CUSTODY / VISITATION
- CHILD SUPPORT
- PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION
- RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS
- DEBT ALLOCATION
- SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
Rarely is a contested divorce in the best interest of the parties. There are times that one party may wish to avenge a perceived wrongdoing through the divorce process and that person will take a ‘scorched earth’ approach to the divorce proceeding. This approach is rarely successful and usually results in more emotional harm being done to the parties and the children, fewer assets to divide between the parties, and irreparable relations between family members.
The decision to divorce is one of the hardest choices a person can make. After all, nobody enters into a marriage thinking it will end like this. When the decision to divorce is reached, there has usually been years of unhappiness, arguing, belittling and disagreement in many facets of the marriage. In the worst cases, there was domestic violence, drug abuse, and infidelity. Whatever the reasons for the divorce, there comes a time to stop the fighting and call a truce.
It is important to understand that in a contested divorce, often times the only winners are the lawyers who charge an hourly fee for every issue that is contested. A contested divorce can get very expensive very fast when you consider that the typical contested divorce will require the requisite pleadings, a temporary orders hearing, written discovery and depositions of both parties and potential witnesses, constant negotiations between attorneys, mediation, and ultimately a trial before a judge or jury. All of these steps require time, money and effort and often times leaves both parties with less than they hoped for.
For that reason, we encourage the divorcing parties to practice the “Three C’s”: Communication, Collaboration and Compromise.
The more issues the parties can agree to, the easier this difficult time will be for everyone involved. There has been enough conflict that has led to this decision. Let this be the time that brings out your best qualities and leave the negativity, remorse, and vengefulness behind. Taking the high road at this time is when the true winner inside of you will emerge. Not when a judge awards you the lamp that your spouse wanted.