A contested divorce occurs when there are issues that are not agreed upon by the parties. In these situations, divorcing parties may have to go to mediation to try to resolve their issues. If they cannot, their case will end up in front of a district court judge or in a contested hearing at the end of the case where a judge will settle all issues.
In a contested divorce, parties may have disputes about child support, parenting time, financial issues in the separation agreement, as well as other topics of interest. A skilled Colorado Springs contested divorce attorney could help you through this stressful process by working through the legal challenges that may come with cases of this nature.
Contested divorces can be more complicated because it can take more time to resolve the issues that are being fought over. Additionally, divorcing spouses in these situations can be more argumentative and emotional. As the parties cannot separate their emotions at times from the potential of settling the case or finding a resolution.
A contested divorce may have multiple hearings including a temporary order hearing and a final orders hearing. These generally can last well over a year or two, depending on the court’s document and the issues in the case.
Additionally, a contested divorce may have experts in their case, which also can make the case longer. Experts can be financial professionals as well as real estate experts, such as appraisers. If these cases involving children, Child Family Investigator or a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator may also be involved, lengthening this process as well. A lawyer in the area could help someone through these unique challenges that may come with a contested divorce
These cases begin in a similar way to uncontested divorces, which is the filing of a petition, the case information sheet and a summons. However, in contested divorces, one party may not want to end the marriage. In this situation, one party must be served by a process server to get the process surrogate. Then after that, the parties must have hand the initial status conference, which should lay out the dates and deadlines of the case.
After the initial status conference, the parties in a contested divorce usually go to a temporary order screen. Here, the court may issue an order on temporary issues such as parenting, child support, spousal maintenance, division of debts. That temporary order will last the duration of the case up until the final order. Then, in the final order hearing, the judge issues a decree and settles any issues that the parties cannot agree on in the contested case.
Because the court knows that there are issues between the parties where they could not come to resolution, the judges hold a hearing and not a trial. Each side will have the ability to present their case on the disputed issues. After their case is then presented using exhibits, testimony and witness testimony, then the judge makes a ruling on those issues. An attorney who has experience working on contested divorce cases could guide someone through this legal process.
When a divorcing couple shares children, an automatic temporary injunction goes into place. This document states that things need to remain status quo until either there’s agreement of the parties or further court order. This means that children cannot be taken off insurance without agreement or further court order.
Additionally, children cannot be taken out of the state without agreement or further court order. This can be especially important when serious disagreements over custody and support between divorcing parties.
If there are issues regarding parenting or child support, then the parties can request a temporary order’s hearing that could circumvent or override the automatic temporary injunction. A magistrate ultimately makes a ruling on these temporary issues. If there are issues of violence with one parent and the children, there could be a protection order filed from one party to the other.
Typically, mediation is mandatory if there are contested issues. Mediation is a good way for the parties to try to resolve all issues in their case with a third neutral party. If the parties cannot resolve all issues, then they still have to go to a final orders hearing. If the parties can resolve all issues, then mediator may draft a memorandum of understanding that is signed by the parties. The goal of mediation is to have both parties have some control and try to come to some form of agreement on the contested issues.
Many times, arbitration is combined with mediation. Instead of having a separate mediation and trial or hearing, what someone could do is have mediation arbitration. Like scenario presented earlier, the parties would discuss their issues and a third party would listen and help the spouses reach a resolution. If two parties cannot come to an agreement, the arbiter would ultimately come up with a decision that is legally binding. In this situation, there is no need to appear in front of a judge, however the judge would have to agree the use of an arbiter instead of coming into the courts.
One common mistake that divorcing spouses may make is not understanding what the roles of everyone is and how difficult the process may be. Many people believe that if they can just get up tell their story that the judge will just believe them, and then they will be able to get what they want. Reality is that the judge must listen to both sides and make a decision based on the facts of the case.
Another mistake is having unrealistic expectations. This happens when parties walk in to mediation thinking that they are going to get 100% of everything they asked for, that is not a reality. Because of these common misconceptions, it is important that parties talk to an attorney to make sure set appropriate expectations when walking into court in a contested divorce case.
In these cases, important to have a Colorado Springs contested divorce attorney who understands the court system and the judges that they are going to appear in front of. It is also important that they have experience in both doing direct examination and cross-examination. Additionally, a lawyer taking on these cases should understand how to present exhibits to the court, fight a strategic fight to try to maximize the value of going to court, and prepare their clients for any issues that may arise during a contested divorce hearing.
One of the biggest things that a lawyer can do is communicate with their client and discuss the potential outcomes. From an outcome standpoint, the attorney wants to discuss best-case scenarios and worst-case scenario, so, the client is never walking into a mediation or a hearing with unrealistic expectations. For help on your case, call today.