Going through a divorce is not easy, but it can be even more complicated when spouses cannot agree on things like child custody, alimony or property division. If you are struggling with these issues with your spouse, you could end up in a contested divorce. A contested divorce generally takes longer than an uncontested divorce, and there are several important factors to consider when going through this process.
First, either you or your spouse must serve the other with divorce papers. If you serve your ex, then he or she must respond within a specific time limit. If you are unable to find your ex in order to serve the papers, or if he or she does not respond, you may need further guidance from a professional.
Once you have completed the process of serving and responding to divorce papers, your divorce will enter a phase called discovery. During discovery, you will both collect important financial information from the other person. This usually pertains to information like:
- Marital assets
- Additional relevant financial information
In a contested divorce, this usually involves document requests, written interrogatories and depositions. There is a time limit to discovery requests, too. Keep a careful eye on those time limits, though. It is not unheard of for one spouse to purposely miss deadlines to try and slow down the divorce process.
The final settlement
Prior to your final court date, you still have the option to reach an agreement on your own. In fact, some Mississippi judges even order couples in a contested divorce to attend mediation before heading to court. If you go to mediation and still cannot address your unresolved issues with the help of a third-party mediator, then you will proceed to court.
During a trial for a contested divorce, you both have the option to call witnesses and even cross-examine witnesses. A family law judge will preside over your trial and consider both sides before making his or her final decision. This can be relatively quick in some situations, although it might take longer if your divorce is complex.
After the divorce
If you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, you can file a post-trial motion. If a judge approves this motion, you will have the option to argue why you think the initial ruling is unfair. If the court denies your post-trial motion, you can still seek an appeal. This process can take time, though.
A contested divorce is often a time-consuming and emotionally draining process. It can be hard to navigate this journey on your own, especially when there are important issues like child custody and alimony on the line. This is why it is important to have someone on your side who understands your needs and is ready to uphold your rights. As you head into your contested divorce, be sure to reach out to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.