What is a Contested Divorce?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does uncontested divorce mean?”


The decision to end your marriage is a difficult one and sometimes, only one partner wants to get divorced. North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you can request a divorce due to irreconcilable differences. While this can make the divorce process easier, both parties must be in agreement that the marriage is over. What happens when one spouse wants to end the marriage and the other does not? This situation results in a contested divorce. A contested divorce can be more complex than an uncontested divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer will guide the process and answer your questions during this difficult time.


Cut-post-it-note-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-family-lawyer-300x225What Causes a Contested Divorce?


There are several conditions that might result in a contested divorce. A spouse may oppose the divorce and wishes to remain together, a spouse might not agree with the terms of the settlement, or might not agree with the parenting or visitation arrangement. A contested divorce does not mean that the marriage cannot end. However, the process will be more complex and often lengthier. This also means that it could lead to a more expensive divorce. Because parties must live apart for a period of at least a year before they divorce, the end of the marriage should not come as a surprise.


Reasons to Contest a Divorce


There are several reasons why a spouse may wish to contest a divorce. Generally, a spouse may contest the divorce for any reason. Once the person contests the procedure the divorce will require additional hearings to review the situation. Parties will be able to present evidence or information that shows their opposition. Some of the common reasons to contest a divorce include:


  • Concealment of finances
  • Parenting disagreements
  • Abuse in the marriage
  • Dispute regarding spousal maintenance
  • Parties are unwilling to compromise


When a spouse hides finances in an attempt to obtain an unfair settlement, the other spouse will need to take time to gather financial information. One or the other parent may not agree to custody or visitation arrangements. If the marriage was abusive, one partner may try to override the divorce to make it unfair. Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is not required, so parties may disagree on whether it is necessary.


Resolving Disputes


A contested divorce means that parties do not agree as to at least some of the settlement terms. Your divorce attorney is adept at negotiating and representing you to ensure a fair settlement results. Both parties may need to compromise, which is something they may not have been good at during their marriage. In North Carolina, assets are to be distributed equitably between partners. When issues regarding the children arise, keep in mind that the court will always advocate for what is in the best interest of the children.


There are several methods that you can use to resolve disputes in a divorce. The first way to resolve disputes is with help from your attorney. Your lawyer will often be able to help resolve disagreements quickly, before they spiral out of control. Another option is to seek mediation. A mediator is a professional who is trained to assist with disputes over divorce settlement issues. One way to head off potential problems is with a collaborative divorce. With this option, both parties agree to the collaborative process.


Whether contested or uncontested, divorce is a serious matter. You can get the legal representation you need to ensure an equitable settlement with help from our attorneys. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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