A “contested divorce” refers to a dissolution of marriage matter in which the parties are unable to agree on one or more issues that must be resolved to terminate their marriage.
When the parties cannot agree, the resolution of the disputed issues is left to a judge of the family court.
The court will hold a trial wherein the parties through their attorneys present testimony and evidence. It can involve testimony from the parties or other witnesses, including expert witnesses. It also can involve documentary evidence such as tax returns, pay stubs, and bank and credit card statements. After a trial is held, the court has up to sixty days to make a decision on the issues presented.
Contested divorces in Arizona can involve any number of disputed issues including:
- Child-related issues of legal decision-making (formerly “custody”) and parenting-time (formerly “visitation”);
- Child support;
- Division of property;
- Division of retirement/pension/401(k);
- Asset valuation, including real property, businesses, or other assets;
- Division of debts;
- Spousal maintenance (sometimes called “alimony”);
- Temporary orders issues;
- Waste of community assets; and
- Attorney fees.
When spouses have disagreements as to how they would like their divorce resolved, the divorce is contested. Disagreements can be as to any number of issues – which spouse is entitled to which property, whether one is deserving of spousal maintenance, which parenting plan is in the best interest of the child, etc. If a divorce is contested, the spouses must in some way resolve these disagreements, whether it be by mediation or litigation. In this situation, retention of legal counsel is crucial, so that you can understand the appropriate and tactful positions you are entitled to take, in resolving these disputes.