Generally, when a spouse wants to file for a divorce, he or she consults with the other spouse in order to determine if the spouses can agree on filing for a divorce. If the couple agrees, this is known as an "uncontested" divorce. However, when a spouse cannot agree or one of the parties refuses to sign uncontested divorce papers, the divorce becomes known as a "contested" divorce. In such an instance, it is necessary for a contested divorce action to be filed in court.
Contested Divorce Initial Procedure
Generally, a contested divorce action begins with the filing of a petition to the appropriate court, usually the family court. The petition only requires the signature of one spouse. The petition should contain an allegation that the marriage has dissolved. Additionally, the petition should include any basis for the divorce, if the state's applicable statute requires such information to be contained in the document. The petition should only include those items required by statute.
Contested Divorce Action
Once the initial petition has been filed, the divorce action may proceed. Generally, the divorce action will include a review of the distribution of property and assets of the spouses, as well as a review of child issues if applicable, such as child support, child custody and visitation. The couple may agree about these matters, but they may be unable to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. As a result, a trial may be necessary in order to resolve these issues. At the trial, each party must present evidence and prove the basis for the divorce and any other issues requiring resolution. Once a determination on the divorce and related issues has been obtained, a judgment for divorce will be issued by the court.