Contested Divorce

Protecting Your Rights in a Contested Divorce 

If you and your former spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you must proceed with a contested divorce, in which the California court will determine the significant matters relating to the ending of your marriage. In a contested divorce, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer fighting for your rights and presenting arguments on your behalf.

In a contested divorce, the court must approve orders relating to (and any other ancillary orders pertaining to your divorce. The orders must be comprehensive):

  • Asset division
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

Both spouses must fulfill these orders or face enforcement action and be held in contempt of court. For this reason, if you are considering a contested divorce or dealing with a divorce summons, you shouldn’t wait until things get complicated to involve an attorney who can protect your rights and offer you knowledgeable insight that applies to your unique situation.

Steps of a Contested Divorce

If you and your former spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you must proceed with a contested divorce, in which the California court will determine the significant matters relating to the ending of your marriage. In a contested divorce, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer fighting for your rights and presenting arguments on your behalf.

In a contested divorce, the court must approve orders relating to (and any other ancillary orders pertaining to your divorce. The orders must be comprehensive):

  • Asset division
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

Both spouses must fulfill these orders or face enforcement action and be held in contempt of court. For this reason, if you are considering a contested divorce or dealing with a divorce summons, you shouldn’t wait until things get complicated to involve an attorney who can protect your rights and offer you knowledgeable insight that applies to your unique situation.

Three Reasons Why Your Divorce May be Contested

If you and your former spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you must proceed with a contested divorce, in which the California court will determine the significant matters relating to the ending of your marriage. In a contested divorce, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer fighting for your rights and presenting arguments on your behalf.

In a contested divorce, the court must approve orders relating to (and any other ancillary orders pertaining to your divorce. The orders must be comprehensive):

  • Asset division
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

Both spouses must fulfill these orders or face enforcement action and be held in contempt of court. For this reason, if you are considering a contested divorce or dealing with a divorce summons, you shouldn’t wait until things get complicated to involve an attorney who can protect your rights and offer you knowledgeable insight that applies to your unique situation.

There are three primary reasons a divorce may be contested., which include but are not limited to:

  1. Your spouse does not want a divorce.
  2. You and your spouse don’t agree on the grounds for divorce or the legal reasons to end your marriage
  3. You and your spouse cannot agree on child custody and support, spousal support,the division of assets, or other related matters.

Generally, a contested divorce is a more expensive and time-consuming approach to divorce, as you and your spouse will need to go to the County Court to have a judge hear all evidence related to the disputed matters and then issue an appropriate ruling.

Steps of a Contested Divorce

If you and your former spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, you must proceed with a contested divorce, in which the California court will determine the significant matters relating to the ending of your marriage. In a contested divorce, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer fighting for your rights and presenting arguments on your behalf.

In a contested divorce, the court must approve orders relating to (and any other ancillary orders pertaining to your divorce. The orders must be comprehensive):

  • Asset division
  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

Both spouses must fulfill these orders or face enforcement action and be held in contempt of court. For this reason, if you are considering a contested divorce or dealing with a divorce summons, you shouldn’t wait until things get complicated to involve an attorney who can protect your rights and offer you knowledgeable insight that applies to your unique situation.

During a contested divorce in Kern County, you can expect to take the following steps to reach a resolution:

Meet with Your Attorney

After you’ve done your research and chosen the attorney that best suits you, you’ll schedule your first meeting. During this meeting, your family law attorney will ask you various questions about your marriage. You’ll want to bring all the paperwork relating to the assets and debts of your marriage so that your attorney can determine issues not limited to child support, spousal support, and anything else that needs to be included in the petition that will be filed in a Kern County court.

Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers

Once your divorce has been filed with the court, your spouse and/or domestic partner will be served with divorce papers.

Waiting for Your Spouse’s Response

Your spouse and/or domestic partner typically has 30 days from the time of receiving the documents to respond to the divorce petition. If they don’t, they will be in default. This gives you the right to ask for a default judgment of divorce. If your spouse does respond, then your case will move forward to the discovery and settlement phases.

Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase, each spouse and/or domestic partner can obtain detailed information about each other including but not limited to income, assets, custody, or anything else that will influence the outcome of the divorce. Deadlines will be set for the discovery phase to be complete.

Settlement

During the discovery phase or once the discovery phase has ended, both parties are encouraged to come to a joint settlement to avoid going to court. Mediation sometimes happens in this part of the process. If both sides still cannot agree, the case heads to a contested trial.

Divorce Court

Divorce court is just like any other court proceeding. Witnesses can be called, evidence can be presented, and closing arguments will be made. Once all arguments have been heard, a judge will make a final decision on all aspects of the divorce.

Post-Trial Motions & Appeal

Once the judge releases his/her ruling, either spouse or domestic partner will have the time needed to file a post-trial motion if they don’t agree with the outcome.

If the judge were to deny your post-trial motion, there is still the option of appealing the ruling. An appeal can be filed up to 30 days from the final judgment or up to 30 days after the post-trial hearing is denied. The other spouse will then have an additional 30 days to file a response brief. After the judge reviews all the final paperwork, oral arguments are usually scheduled. The judge will then make their final decision. If the case is reversed, it will return to trial. If it is not, the ruling stays, and the proceedings are over.

How Long Will a Contested Divorce Take?

If the divorce heads to a Kern County court, you’re at the mercy of the judge’s schedule as to when your trial will begin. Although there are in rare cases emergency requests, very few are granted because they are not true emergencies. You may get a court date weeks or even months from the time you initially file your paperwork.

Once the court date is set, there’s no exact timeframe of how long your divorce will take. It will depend on the number of issues that both parties cannot agree on. Some contested divorces can wrap up quickly while others drag on for extended periods.

Having an experienced family law attorney on your side who you can trust and one who explains all of the issues to you is critical when dealing with a contested divorce. Having all the needed documents can also help to speed along the process and reach a resolution faster.

How Does the Court Make Decisions in a Contested Divorce?

Property is divided per the equitable distribution law of California. This does not mean that it is always split equally, but that the division is based on what the court considers to be fair, taking numerous factors into account.

Call the Law Office of Jim R. Canaday today at (661) 328-1910.

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