Puja Sachdev | September 20, 2023 | Divorce
Divorce proceedings are typically not as dramatic as depicted in social media, television, and entertainment news. Most couples negotiate a divorce settlement out of court. The process might be stressful at times, but the divorce is generally amicable.
However, some divorces are destined to go to court because the spouses cannot agree to terms. In some cases, the parties could fight for years over matters related to child custody and property division.
What Is a Contested Divorce in California?
When spouses cannot agree on all the issues to be evaluated, the matter becomes a contested divorce in California. Generally, spouses might agree on some issues but bitterly argue about specific matters. Property division, child custody, and alimony are three divorce areas where couples fight the most.
A couple might agree on all but one matter. The divorce is still contested because of that single disputed issue.
What Happens During a Contested Divorce Case in California?
Many contested divorces are resolved through private negotiations. The spouses and their San Diego divorce lawyers meet to discuss various options for a divorce settlement. Spouses might agree to mediation to help facilitate settlement negotiations.
If private negotiations and mediation fail, the court schedules a hearing date. In complicated divorces, there could be several hearings throughout the case to resolve specific issues before a final hearing is held.
At the final hearing, the judge hears testimony and reviews evidence presented by both parties. The judge issues a final divorce decree, which is legally binding on both parties. If the parties later agree to modify specific terms, they must petition the court for a modification of judgment for the changes to be legally binding.
A contested divorce can be costly and lengthy. Contested divorces can also create stress and anxiety, which is unhealthy for all family members.
Therefore, your San Diego divorce attorney will try to help you negotiate a fair divorce settlement without going to court. However, if a contested divorce cannot be avoided, it helps to prepare for what lies ahead.
Some things to keep in mind when dealing with a contested divorce in California include:
Put Together Important Documents for Your Lawyer
Regardless of whether you anticipate a contested or uncontested divorce, gathering all essential documents as soon as possible is important. Make copies of financial, estate, and property documents. Ask your lawyer for a list of other documents you should gather to prevent your spouse from destroying or modifying the documents.
Do Not Involve Your Children
Children should not bear the emotional burden of their parents’ divorce. Their world dramatically changes when they learn their parents are divorcing. Therefore, parents need to take steps to keep their children out of the divorce process.
Regardless of your feelings, do not criticize or vilify your child’s other parent. Instead, provide a stable home and encourage a close relationship with their other parent. Even if you seek sole custody because you believe your spouse is an unfit parent, do not discuss the details of the case with or in front of your children.
Do Not Post on Social Media
Social media can hurt a divorce case. Even if you have the highest privacy settings for your accounts, your spouse could obtain those records through the court. The comments you make and the pictures you post could be used against you in a contested divorce.
Therefore, consider temporarily giving up social media while your divorce is pending. Talk with your divorce lawyer about closing your accounts or pausing them until the divorce is finalized.
Have Realistic Expectations
You might believe you are entitled to “everything” in a divorce action. However, that is not realistic in most cases.
California is a community property state. Therefore, all marital assets are divided equally between the spouses unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that states otherwise.
Likewise, alimony is not guaranteed. Therefore, you might not receive alimony or the amount of alimony you believe you deserve.
Talk with a San Diego divorce lawyer to determine what you can realistically expect to receive in a divorce. Knowing what to expect helps you prepare financially and emotionally for a final divorce settlement.
Take Care of Yourself
It is easy to forget to take care of yourself when dealing with a contested divorce. A contested divorce can cause a high level of anxiety and stress. Therefore, you need to focus on getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and enjoying relaxing activities.
Find a strong support system to help you get through a contested divorce. Your support system may include family members, friends, therapists, and support groups. The people in your support system can help you battle feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and depression.
Hire an Attorney To Help With Your Contested Divorce
An experienced San Diego divorce lawyer provides support and guidance during a contested divorce. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible gives you the advantage of legal advice during every phase of your divorce.
Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA
San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108