Most couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do,” expecting it to end happily, yet nearly half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. Despite the high amount of cases, many spouses enter the divorce process without any preparation, adding to the stressful situation.
We at Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa are here to help you understand the importance of divorce planning, especially when you are gearing up for a potentially high conflict split.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces
A significant portion of the divorce process involves settling on child custody and visitation, division of property, and spousal support. If the spouses can reasonably agree with one another on these matters without any legal proceedings, it will be considered an uncontested divorce. These cases offer a quicker, less expensive solution to end a marriage, which most people desire. Although reaching that amicable break up is often easier said than done.
On the other hand, you have contested divorces. This type will occur when spouses are unable to agree on the terms and conditions of their separation and must take their different positions to the courts. For example, a dispute may arise regarding what is considered marital property versus separate property. The thought of leaving these major life decisions in the hands of a judge is frightening for most people, which is why many parties will settle before they ever reach the courtroom. However, we understand that this may not always be possible or in your best interest.
Preparing for a Contested Divorce
If you are expecting a contested divorce, it’s important to know what may lie ahead and prepare accordingly. Ultimately, it will help set your case up for success.
Begin gathering essential documents
To help build a strong case, we recommend putting together and organizing these documents:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Property deed
- You and your partner’s gross income
- Statements for investment accounts
- List of real property you and your partner share
It’s also smart to make a copy and share it with your legal team. Your lawyer will use this information to create a winning strategy.
Safeguard your records
Typically, contested divorce cases involve parties engaging in emotional disputes, leading to some unfortunate decisions. To ensure that all your financial records, emails, and electronic data remain safe, you should take extra steps to back up all this information.
It would help if you also opened a P.O. box for mail and other essential documents that you don’t want to get lost.
Gain a better understanding of parenting plan guidelines and child custody laws
Some of the biggest disagreements that we see are about decisions regarding child custody and visitation. We know that there is nothing more important than your relationship with your children, and you’d do anything to protect them. If you are divorcing with a child, you’ll have to develop a parenting plan that will determine custody rights and time-sharing rights and the division of parental rights and responsibilities.
You should take the time to carefully educate yourself on parenting guidelines or ask your lawyer to walk you through the process. At Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa, we provide our clients with timely, detailed updates on their case and make ourselves available to answer and follow up on any questions.
Hire an Experienced Divorce Litigator
There are plenty of lawyers out there, but in contested divorces, you’ll want a litigator by your side. Be careful about who you choose to represent you. Experience in the courtroom is critical in these types of divorce cases.
Divorce is nothing if not difficult. The legal complexities involved, coupled with the emotional aspect of ending a marriage, can be a lot for anyone. Our attorneys are here to make it as painless as possible. We can help you settle your case through mediation and negotiation or vigorously present your case in divorce court litigation.