A divorce often involves discussions on matters such as alimony, property distribution, and child custody. When spouses disagree over these terms, they can be said to be in a contested divorce. A contested divorce could also occur where one spouse contends the parties have not lived separate and apart for the required period of time. If spouses cannot reach an agreement on such matters, then a court will make the final determinations.
How long does a contested divorce take? Since the matters mentioned above must be addressed, a contested divorce could last longer than an uncontested one. The following is a preview of what to expect during your contested divorce.
Are you going through a divorce? Seek legal advice or representation from a Divorce Attorney in Monroe NC.
Issues in a Contested Divorce
During a divorce, spouses may disagree on the divorce itself or certain aspects of it, such as:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Debt distribution
- Property Distribution
A court will rule on contested matters if the divorcing couple fails to reach an agreement. However, it will first require mediation for the spouses to try and resolve their differences on certain issues such as custody and property distribution outside a court.
Contested Divorce Process
If negotiations are unsuccessful, you might need to prepare for the following stages of resolving a contested divorce:
- Initial Attorney Consultation
During your first meeting with the divorce attorney, you will discuss important matters such as the date of separation, child custody, and marital assets. Your attorney will attempt to understand the details of your separation and the issues that may arise during your divorce. Your attorney will file a divorce complaint with the courts if one has not already been filed.
- Serving the Divorce Complaint
Once your attorney files a complaint, they will serve it on your spouse. This is usually done in person, by the deputy sheriff, or by certified mail. If your spouse cannot be found, a notice will be published in the local newspaper. You will then have to wait for a specified amount of time before proceeding.
- Complaint Response
The served spouse is required to respond to the divorce complaint within 30 days of it being served. If they do not respond before the deadline, you can be granted a default judgment.
Discovery involves interrogatories, depositions, and document requests. These processes are aimed toward learning about the relevant facts of the case as well as getting financial documents.
If custody is involved, a court will order custody mediation to encourage the spouses to settle outside of court. If the property division is involved, mediation will be required before an actual trial. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case will move to trial.
The parties present their arguments and evidence at trial. The judge listens to the case, deliberates, and delivers a ruling. There can be a temporary hearing for custody, child support, and spousal support, as well as a final trial on those issues and property division.
If either couple disagrees with the court’s ruling, they can file an appeal provided that the court’s ruling is a final determination of the issue.
Consult a Divorce Attorney Monroe NC
How long does a contested divorce take? Overall, the answer will vary from case to case. A couple feuding over many matters can take months or even years to resolve certain issues and will take longer than one with few disagreements.
The willingness of each spouse to cooperate can also affect the length of the divorce.
Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP has been offering quality legal representation in North Carolina since 1980. We are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the divorce process as smoothly as possible. Contact us at (704) 469-5523 to schedule a consultation with a Divorce Attorney in Monroe NC.