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Why Divorces Can Become Contested

Posted by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation | Aug 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

For a moment, consider this scenario: Tomi and Jerry have been married for seven years, have no children or ownership in real property (they have lived in the same apartment complex in Fremont for the duration of the marriage), own a few trinkets here and there, but do not have a large amount of debt. Recently, they have come to an agreement that the marriage isn't working and a divorce is in order. 

This couple almost qualifies for a summary dissolution, which is an expedited and simplified form of divorce. Nevertheless, one of the files the petition for divorce. The process has begun, and they are able to reach an agreement regarding property division and all other issues that must be addressed. After a judge signs off on the agreement, Tomi and Jerry have successfully completed an uncontested divorce. 

Now, let's consider another scenario: Rosie and Jeff have only been married four years but have a child together. Rosie discovers that Jeff has been unfaithful in their marriage and files a petition for divorce. Surprisingly, Jeff goes along with the petition and begins reading over Rosie's requests. He is on board with everything until he gets to the section where Rosie asks for sole legal AND physical custody of their child. Jeff tells Rosie, “Listen, I just can't give up my daughter like that.” So, he files a response; because there is a disagreement in the issue of child custody, Jeff and Rosie have a contested divorce. 

Up until Jeff read Rosie's requests on child custody, the divorce was, technically, uncontested because he had not filed a response. If they were able to work out an agreement on that issue (and everything else), then an uncontested divorce would have been executed. 

Let's go back to the case of Tomi and Jerry for a moment. As they are talking, Tomi mentions that she feels she deserves the car because she bought it and uses it more often than Jerry. However, Tomi purchased the vehicle after the marriage; additionally, Jerry sometimes fills up the tank and takes it for regular maintenance with his own money (he works from home). When Jerry hears this, he indicates that he won't agree to give her the car. Suddenly, the divorce between Tomi and Jerry (which was, until very recently, simple and uncontested) is now contested. 


The two examples we discussed above are meant to illustrate the two situations where a previously uncontested divorce becomes contested:

  • The spouse who is served with divorce papers files a response (sues for alimony or child support, for instance)
  • During negotiations, the two spouses reveal a disagreement that cannot be resolved without outside assistance

It is extremely important to note that a bitter court battle does not have to occur simply because a divorce becomes contested. Couples can enter into mediation, which involves a neutral third party helping the two sides come together and enter into an agreement. Our firm strongly believes in the benefits of alternative dispute resolution when it comes to divorce. Attorney Madan Ahluwalia is experienced in efficiently executing California divorces with minimal stress on all involved parties. Ready to get started? Call the firm today at 408-416-3149.

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