A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree on the major issues involved in dissolving their marriage, such as child custody, alimony, and division of property. Divorce is an emotional process for both parties. Children are extremely vulnerable in contested divorces and their well being should be the top priority of both parents.
A contested divorce can drag on for years if the parties are stubborn. Each party needs to internally acknowledge why they are refusing to settle any aspect of the divorce. Too often the spouse that feels scorned just wants their story to be heard; they want the world to know what a jerk their spouse is and will bring petty, irrelevant issues to the case. Do not allow yourself to fall victim to this mentality. In the end, it is never worth it – emotionally or financially.
In many contested divorces it is necessary for the court to issue temporary orders pending the final outcome of the case. These temporary orders will often cover issues such as child support, alimony, and payment of the marital household obligations until the divorce is finalized and permanent orders are in place.
Contested issues require discovery, which is a fact finding mission. Each party is allowed to request information from the other party, as well as from third parties. Every aspect of the marriage will be analyzed, from bank records, to employment records, to property values, to spending habits, to lifestyles. Documents will be requested from banks, creditors, employers, and accountants. Questions called Interrogatories will be presented to each party. These questions will involve the financial aspects, as well as personal questions relating to the lifestyles of each party, how they interact with their children, and what role they played in the marriage. Always be cognizant of what you say, do, or write in public – imagine the judge in your case having access to everything, including text messages, emails and facebook pages. These things can ruin your case so be aware of everything you say in public forums and social media.
Most courts require, or at least encourage the parties to attend mediation to try to resolve issues. Mediation is a wonderful tool since it gives control back to the parties. If you cannot agree, the control will be given to a judge to make the decisions for you. When it comes to matters involving your money and your children, you should always want to retain control over those decisions. The best way to view mediation is to agree on what you can live with, what is reasonable – even if it is not ideal – and most importantly, what is best for your children.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Divorces can financially ruin people. You must approach your discontent with issues logically. Is it worth paying two attorneys upwards of $500 to fight over a $100 piece of furniture? There are certain issues to stand your ground on and others to simply let go. Be the bigger person and show your spouse you are above pettiness. The quicker the divorce is finalized, the better – so both parties can begin the healing process and move on.
This post was provided by Heather Carty, a divorce mediation specialist. She helps people go through processes like the divorce application Ontario. She recommends the profesional staff at Berman Barristers.