Contested Divorce | Family Law Attorney Brandon Florida

For many couples simply coming to terms with the fact their marriage is not working is a grueling and emotionally draining process, but after the situation is accepted the next hurdle is what is the best way to proceed and how is that route selected?

On many occasions, people think making the decision to dissolve the union is the most difficult component until they realize the ramifications involve much more than not spending their life with their current mate. Someone they might have thought they knew better than anyone in the world can suddenly turn peevish, selfish and resentful for a variety of reasons namely one party does not want the marriage to end, discord over child custody arrangements or a complex division of finances. Quite honestly, you never can truly gauge how badly the other party may act once a divorce is selected as the appropriate option.

The two most common types of divorce in Florida, which is a no-fault state that does not recognize a legal separation, are uncontested, where the parties settle all matters between themselves without the aid of the court system, or contested, where husband and wife are having some problems with working all their affairs out for themselves and engage the services of a legal professional in conjunction with the courts to create a marital settlement agreement that is palatable to both parties.

A contested divorce does relay the connotation that both parties are being difficult and haggling over every item, but that certainly does not have to be the case. The term applies for any divorce where details need to be settled and after an initial meeting with an attorney could all be arranged rather swiftly.


Reasons To Pursue A Contested Divorce:

  • To divide personal property and real property.

  • Child custody.

  • Pension plans.

  • Spousal support or alimony.

  • Credit card debt.

  • Child support.

  • Child visitation.

  • Parenting issues.

The above mentioned reasons are only a sampling of the issues that can arise between a couple going through a divorce, but another occasion a divorce can be contested has to do with residency. If one spouse lives in another state and cannot be located, the court may have to produce a ruling on how property will be divided or if they possess the proper jurisdictional powers to dissolve the marriage.

Also, a marriage can be terminated through publication if one spouse is not found. If after a certain period of days there is no response to the publication notice, the filing spouse is granted the divorce even if the other party has no knowledge of the proceedings.

It is important to recognize Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means it divides property based upon what is considered by the court to be the best remedy for each party. Therefore, if one party can illustrate to the court why they are entitled for example for some type of pension benefit, typically their request is granted as long as they can adequately prove their claim.

If the parties ultimately cannot come to any sort of agreement after involving legal professionals such as attorneys, mediators or arbitrators, the case is eligible for trail. The Florida court system, however, frowns upon this practice and promotes an approach with a detailed property settlement agreement without extensive involvement on their part.


How An Attorney Can Help In A Contested Divorce:

If the couple cannot agree on any of the issues mentioned previously or if they have their own unique set of circumstances, an attorney protects each person’s interests and can act as a sort of mediator between the two parties so they can come to some sort of agreement.

In most instances, contested divorces involve conflict over child custody, visitation, support and property distribution. Child custody and property distribution can involve what is termed as discovery. This is simply the process used by attorneys to probe into a spouse’s personal and financial state.


Discovery can include:

  • Depositions
  • Subpoenas for records or other data
  • Interrogatories
  • Letters, information requests, settlement agreements and various other documents

If someone that has made the painful decision to divorce feels any of these issues will not be able to be settled amicably with their partner, they certainly should consult an attorney for what could become a contested divorce, to protect their legal and personal interests.