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What is a contested divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2023 | Divorce

A contested divorce is likely to be more complicated than an amicable divorce. But people sometimes make the mistake of assuming that this means the ultimate outcome of a contested divorce is uncertain. They may be afraid that the court will not grant them a divorce or that their spouse is going to contest the decision and say they want to stay married.

There were times wherein this could happen because a spouse had to prove fault for a divorce. Had you divorced several decades ago, you would have needed to show that your spouse had done something wrong, such as being abusive or engaging in an affair. But this is no longer the case. Since 1974, Minnesota has had no-fault divorce laws. But if that means that the outcome of the divorce isn’t in question, then what is it that’s being contested?

The terms of the divorce

Essentially, a contested divorce is one in which you and your spouse don’t agree on the terms and can’t reach an agreement via negotiation and/or mediation. You will need to go to court to resolve your differences, which is why this process takes longer and is more expensive. It is a complex, time-intensive process.

For instance, maybe you want to get sole custody of your children. Your spouse also wants to get sole custody. It’s clear that both of you cannot do so, and so the court has to make a decision.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that either one of you will be happy with the outcome or will like the terms of the court’s order. In the example above, courts generally prefer to have co-parents share custody. So, it is most likely that neither one of you would get sole custody. You would have to set up a schedule for joint custody, with your children living with each of you for a set time on an alternating schedule.

What steps do you need to take?

Since a contested divorce is generally more complex than a collaborative process, it’s very important to know what steps to take if your divorce is likely to be contentious. This is especially true if you do not think that your spouse is going to want to compromise. The legal system can sort out the details, but you need to know exactly what steps to take as you work your way through that process with the assistance of a legal professional in order to have the best possible chance of a fair and favorable outcome.

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