What Is A Contested Divorce Or No-Fault Divorce?

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement regarding all issues related to the divorce including child custody, division of property/debts or even the grounds for the dissolution, the courts consider the case to be contested.

Cases can be contested in whole or in part. If a divorce is contested in whole, this means that the parties have not been able to agree on any terms. However, many divorces may be contested in part. This means that perhaps the parties agree on child custody, but disagree over the amount of child support to pay.

Georgia law provides for many fault-based grounds for divorce, as well as one no-fault divorce method. Seeking a no-fault divorce — saying that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" — does not make your divorce uncontested, nor does it have anything to do with the issues of settlement. It simply does not seek to assign specific blame to one party as to why the marriage did not work. Ultimately, if you file on fault grounds, such as adultery, substance abuse or addiction, you must prove your spouse guilty of these actions.

What Happens When I File For Divorce In A Contested Case?

When filing a contested divorce in Cumming, you must include a financial disclosure affidavit with the court showing details of your current budget, assets and debts. You must also exchange copies with your spouse.

Either party may request a temporary hearing to ask a judge to determine if any temporary orders are necessary regarding child support, child visitation, dissipation of marital assets or even harassment. These orders will be in place until completion of the divorce decree.

If there are children involved, you will also be required to file a detailed parenting plan before the divorce will be finalized, regardless of whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce. Should custody be in dispute, the parties can request a guardian ad litem to investigate any allegations that the parties are accusing of one another. This guardian ad litem will meet with you and your spouse, as well as others familiar with your children, and will make recommendations to the court based on their independent investigation.

After the divorce case is filed, there is also a period of time where each of the parties can request information from each other or people not directly involved in the case. This is called the discovery period.

Settlement Or Trial

You are not obligated to go to trial if all issues can be resolved. Many courts require that parties attend mediation before a final hearing occurs. Mediation is where a specially trained neutral person works to see if they can help the parties reach a settlement. If settlement occurs, whether through mediation or negotiations, your attorney can submit a settlement agreement to the judge for review and approval to finalize the decree.

If all issues are not resolved, your divorce will go to trial with the option of by jury or by a judge alone. The vast majority of divorces are done by bench trial — one without a jury. Even if a party wants a jury trial, if issues regarding children are involved, then a trial by judge is required for custody decisions. A jury can make decisions regarding property and financial issues.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Georgia, call 770-744-1111 today to schedule a consultation with the family law attorneys at Miles Hansford & Tallant, LLC.