Divorcing couples will either have a contested or uncontested divorce. This means either they disagree on certain issues (contested) or they have reached a complete agreement to dissolve their marriage and divide their assets and liabilities (uncontested).
Ultimately, the parties in a contested divorce do not see eye to eye on issues relating to the marital estate and/or the children. A contested divorce involves several additional steps along with added costs.
A contested divorce typically includes a provisional hearing in which the court will set a temporary order to address issues including but not limited to custody, parenting time, child support, possession of the marital home, payment of bills, payment of spousal maintenance, payment of interim attorney fees, and other issues. In addition, the court should enter a restraining order to prevent either party from selling, transferring, or hiding marital assets, except in the normal course of business or for life’s necessities.
A contested divorce often involves discovery, which is the process of obtaining information from the other party and/or witnesses. This information is secured through interrogatories (written questions answered under oath); requests for production (obtaining documents); and depositions (answering questions in person under oath with a transcript). If a disagreement regarding custody and parenting time exists, the parties may request a Guardian Ad Litem (a court-appointed individual who represents the best interest of the children) or a custody evaluation by a licensed clinical social worker or child psychologist.
Mediation is the next step in a contested divorce. Mediation is a meeting of the parties, their attorneys and an impartial individual, the mediator, who is usually an attorney, with the goal of resolving the parties’ outstanding issues. The mediator does not choose sides and does not make decisions for the parties. If an agreement is reached on some or all issues, the mediator will prepare an agreement for signature by the parties, their attorneys and the court. Once signed, the agreement is binding and may not be set aside except in limited circumstances. If no agreement is reached, the mediator will advise the court in his/her report and the parties will likely proceed to trial. The mediator does not become a witness to the case and all discussions with the mediator are confidential.
A contested divorce trial involves presenting testimony of the parties and witnesses and exhibits. After the conclusion of the trial, the judge will make a ruling regarding any outstanding issues. It is important to keep in mind that trials are expensive and there is no guarantee that the judge will interpret the law in your favor. If either party fails to request the judge to reconsider and/or correct the judge’s order or appeals the order, the parties are bound to follow the order.
An uncontested divorce occurs when the parties have agreed upon all issues regarding the marital estate and the children. This agreement is signed by the parties and submitted to the court for approval. An uncontested divorce is relatively inexpensive, less stressful and provides the parties with greater control over their futures.
Carmel divorce lawyer Joshua R. Hains assists clients in navigating the legal divorce process. Whether a contested or uncontested divorce, Attorney Hains understands Indiana law and will do everything possible to ensure that his clients are well-informed and well-equipped to make the decisions that will best serve them in the long-term. As an attorney with his clients’ best interests at heart, Attorney Hains tailors his services to each case and client’s needs.
Divorce is a stressful and emotional matter. You should never feel that you must handle the stress and uncertainty on your own. Even the most knowledgeable of clients can benefit from the seasoned perspective that a divorce attorney can bring. If you are considering a divorce, contact Hains Law, LLC to schedule a consultation to discuss your best next step in the legal process.