In a divorce, various matters need to be settled. For instance, you and your spouse may have to decide how property is divided or who your children primarily live with.
Because this is a highly emotional time, you and your spouse may disagree on how to resolve these issues. When that happens, that is called a contested divorce. In these situations, the case may go through meditation or be taken to court.
What Is the Process for a Contested Divorce?
Filing the Divorce Paperwork
The initial stages of a contested divorce are the same as those as an uncontested one. You must begin the process by submitting a petition to the court and serving your spouse with divorce papers.
The steps that follow may vary somewhat between a contested and uncontested divorce.
Going through Mediation
Before taking your case to court and having a judge decide how to resolve matters, you may first try to work through disagreements by going through mediation.
Mediation involves a third-party mediator facilitating discussions between you and your spouse. This method allows you and your spouse greater control in resolving disputes, as you make the decisions instead of a judge.
You and your spouse coming to agreements through mediation can make the divorce process faster and less costly. Some courts in Missouri require mediation before bringing divorce issues to court.
Going through Divorce Hearings
If you and your spouse cannot resolve your differences through mediation, your case will be scheduled for a hearing. During this part of the process, you and your spouse will present evidence to support your assertions.
A judge will hear both sides and decide on the case.
If you and your spouse can agree on critical issues, that is called an uncontested divorce. Depending on your circumstances, you might not agree at first, but after constructive conversations, you and your spouse may find common ground.
For many reasons, an uncontested divorce is encouraged. For the immediate circumstances, it can help relieve some of the stresses and frustrations associated with this challenging time. Long-term, it can foster a more collaborative environment for you and your spouse, which may help should issues arise after the divorce is finalized.
Additionally, if you and your spouse can agree on critical divorce-related issues, you may be able to avoid going to court, saving you time and money. Note, though, that you will have to submit your final agreement to the court for approval.
After Your Divorce Is Final
Whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, the court will issue a written order. The order contains the obligations of both you and your spouse, such as exchanging property and transferring ownership of formerly joint assets.
If you or your spouse fails to comply with the order, the wronged party may file a motion to either have the order enforced or the non-complying party held in contempt. Depending on the situation, the court may impose penalties, such as fines or jail time.
At Smith Law Offices, LLC, we have over 50 years of combined legal experience and can help you through a contested or uncontested divorce in St. Charles. Contact us at (636) 400-1177 to schedule a consultation.