Contested Divorces in California
How can there be contested divorces in a no-fault divorce state such as California? While it’s true that irreconcilable differences and not evidence of misconduct is reason enough for a divorce in California, if your spouse is pushing for a divorce and you do not like the terms being set forth, you are now in a contested divorce. The first thing you need to do is get yourself an aggressive, experienced divorce attorney. From there, buckle up: The coming months could get rough.
Why Contest a Divorce?
While neither spouse may have any interest in remaining married, there are certainly plenty of other issues that can impact one’s desire to contest the divorce. This does not mean you are fighting the idea of a split; it means you are contesting the provisions of the eventual and inevitable split.
If your spouse initiated divorce proceedings, a list of terms and conditions was likely outlined that lays out precisely what they would like. As the petitioner, your spouse got the first shot at stating preferences, but certainly not the last. As the respondent, you now have an opportunity to say what you think would be more equitable terms. It is essential to move quickly because there are strict timelines associated with your response.
Some Common Issues for Contested Divorces in California:
- Child custody and visitation;
- The dispensation of the family home;
- Support of children or a lesser-earning spouse;
- Specific property items;
- Claims related to physical abuse, child abuse, substance use, mental health, or other claims that might impact one’s reputation, not to mention one’s right to raise or even visit one’s children.
Where to Respond
You must contest issues related to the divorce in the original court where the divorce was filed. This is where any litigation could end up occurring, which may be advantageous to your spouse if you live some distance away. Ultimately, however, although that may be where the final divorce takes place, specific issues related to, say, child custody, may be diverted to a different court.
Going to Battle
Be prepared for plenty of contention as you move forward. As the respondent, you will need to provide the facts to influence a judge’s decision in your favor. If the issues under dispute cannot be negotiated by the parties, it may ultimately mean that a trial ensues requiring testimony from friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors. In some cases, your children may be asked to participate. The petitioner may rebut claims, and provide supporting testimony and/or documentation. You can expect this to result in more time, greater expense, and additional frustration.
Fighting for You
Contested divorces generally is one of the most stressful experiences one can participate in. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a necessary step in achieving freedom from a spouse that is not meant for you. At Beck Law P.C., we understand how the complexity of this situation can take a toll on our clients. Our family law attorneys work to minimize the difficulties by being a strong advocate at all times. If you live in Sonoma County, Lake County or Mendocino County, contact our Santa Rosa office today for a confidential consultation to discuss you situation.