Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one in which the divorcing couple is unable to reach an agreement about one or more issues that need to be resolved before the divorce can be final. For example, if you and your soon-to-be-ex cannot agree about child custody, your divorce is contested – and a court will make a decision about the issue for you.

If you are involved in a contested divorce or believe that a messy divorce may be on the horizon, you should reach out to an experienced divorce attorney at Bourdon & Tortolero today. We serve clients throughout Virginia, Maryland, and DC and are standing by to protect your rights.  

The Contested Divorce Process

Some divorcing couples begin the divorce process amicably enough only to find that one or more of their divorce terms trip them up along the way – leading to a contested divorce. Other divorcing couples, however, recognize that their divorces will be complicated and involved a contest from the outset.

Regardless of how you get there, the basic contested divorce process involves the following critical steps:

  • Filing the divorce complaint
  • Filing the answer – by the spouse who is served with the divorce papers
  • Filing any pretrial motions, such as to compel discovery
  • Attending a pretrial conference, which helps establish the number of terms that will need to be addressed and guides the litigation schedule
  • Requesting temporary relief, which relates to one spouse requesting financial support from the other while the divorce is pending
  • Beginning the discovery process, which involves fact-finding that is often associated with financials
  • Obtaining expert testimony related to complicated financials or to each spouse’s level of parental fitness
  • Heading to trial

Each of these can play an important role in the outcome of your contested divorce, which makes allowing them the attention they deserve paramount. Working closely with a dedicated divorce attorney from the start is always to your advantage.

It should also be noted that if you and your divorcing spouse are able to resolve the contested terms at any point in the process, you can settle the matter outside of court – making what you thought would be a contested divorce uncontested.   

The Terms of Your Divorce

The fact is that any term in a potentially contentious divorce can become a sticking point and turn your divorce into a contested divorce. While every case is unique, the terms that need to be addressed remain the same, including:

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Child support
  • The division of marital property, including the matter of separate property
  • Spousal support, or alimony

It’s important to understand that you don’t need a legal separation in order to obtain a contested divorce, but you will need to fulfill the state’s separation requirement prior to filing.

Child Custody When A Divorce Gets Complicated

Child custody arrangements are often at the heart of contested divorces. Child custody terms are broken down into two basic issues that include legal and physical custody. Legal custody sets the stage for who will be making the important parenting decisions post-divorce, including decisions about the following:

  • The children’s schooling
  • The children’s healthcare
  • The children’s extracurriculars
  • The children’s religious upbringing

Physical custody addresses visitation schedules – or when the children are with you and when they’re with their other parent. Courts are guided by the best interests of the involved children and are motivated to maximize the amount of visitation each parent receives. Best-interest factors like the following help guide legal rulings on child custody:

  • Each child’s age, physical and mental health, and overall developmental needs
  • Each parent’s overall mental and physical health
  • The quality of the relationship each parent has fostered with each child and their level of involvement with the children
  • Each child’s needs, including any special needs, and each parent’s ability and commitment to addressing these needs

The matter of child custody is a critical matter that will directly affect your ongoing relationship with your children. At Bourdon & Tortolero, we have the experience, legal skill, and focus to help protect your parental rights throughout the contested divorce process.

Marital Property and Debt Division

Another primary divorce concern is the division of marital property and debt. Those assets that you, your spouse, or both of you together came to own during your marriage are marital property, and upon divorce, they must be offset by your marital debt and divided between you fairly – given the unique circumstances involved. The division of marital property will guide your post-divorce finances and has the potential to become especially contentious.

Some of the primary factors that affect the division of marital property and debt include:

  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • The contributions – both monetary and nonmonetary – each spouse made to the marriage, the family, and the acquisition of property
  • The length of the marriage
  • The tax consequences of the proposed property division

Ensuring that your financial rights are well protected requires careful legal attention, and the practiced divorce attorneys at Bourdon & Tortolero have an impressive track record of successfully unraveling even the most challenging property division cases – in support of our clients’ best interests.

Contesting Spousal Support and Alimony

What used to routinely be called alimony is now referred to as spousal support, but the basics remain the same. Spousal support is based on one spouse’s need for financial assistance in order to support themself – in relation to the other’s financial ability to provide support. The matter of spousal support can become quite heated, which makes having the professional legal counsel of the trusted divorce attorneys at Bourdon & Tortolero in your corner to your distinct advantage.

Consult with an Experienced Contested Divorce Attorney about Your Options

The accomplished contested divorce lawyers at Bourdon & Tortolero – proudly serving clients in Virginia, Maryland, and the DC metropolitan area – focus their practice on helping clients like you successfully navigate their divorces through the family law court proceedings with their parental and financial rights intact. We are on your side and here to help, and we encourage you to reach out by contacting or calling us at 703-646-8390 for more information about what we can do for you today.

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