WHAT IS A CONTESTED DIVORCE?
Those involved in a marriage may treat it as an institution of family and emotional bonding. On the legal end of the spectrum, it is a contract agreed upon before the government and bound by all applicable elements of the law.
Therefore, when it ends, it necessitates an appropriate legal process for its dissolution to become official. The process of divorce and the ease associated with it are vastly affected by several factors, the largest of which are the extent of synchronization between requirements of both parties and the presence of reputable and experienced divorce attorneys.
In York, PA, any of the spouses can opt for a no-fault divorce. In this instance, the other party agrees, and the need to prove the fault is waived. Fault grounds include, but are not limited to:
Willful actions by one spouse leading to the endangerment of or injury to the other
Desertion and the decision to abandon the place of habitation
The sentencing of one spouse to a prison term no shorter than two years for committing a crime.
Note that a fault-based divorce is not the same as a contested one. These terms are confused by some, but it is essential to know the difference. The concept of the contested divorce is covered below.
Only marriages in which at least one spouse has resided in the state of Pennsylvania for at least six months are eligible for divorce. Once this residency condition is met, the required paperwork may be filed and served. Note that your attorney is responsible for serving the papers, should you choose to retain one.
It is at this point where the decision of proceeding with a fault or no-fault divorce is made. Either can fall under the contested category since both concepts only speak to the need or lack thereof to prove fault.
So long as the involved parties cannot agree on the terms proposed, a contested divorce is at hand. Naturally, this process includes greater complexity than its uncontested counterparts, which creates an even greater need for the presence and expertise of legal professionals.
If the issue with the contested divorce lies with one supposed refusal to sign the divorce papers, it can drastically extend the proceedings since, under Pennsylvania law, the court does not order signing of papers.
However, without a provable separation period of at least 24 months, the contested divorce could potentially proceed. This is unless the "uncooperative spouse" contests the date of separation, which creates a situation that sees the processing of divorce extending beyond the two-year mark.
THE DIVORCE MASTER
A cost-effective divorce process does not make use of a divorce master. Unfortunately, some spouses refuse to consent to the occurrence of the divorce or to accept the terms of the agreement presented.
Couples are encouraged to exert the maximum effort possible to agree without the need for intervention. Of course, any attorneys that may have been retained should be on hand to guide this process. Still, the final decision always rests with the clients and not the legal professionals.
If all else fails, a divorce master is brought into the mix, and this is only a pretrial proceeding. The purpose of this person is to collect evidence and testimonies, which allows for informed recommendations for the case to the courts.
Some of the areas of disagreement that may necessitate such a hearing include asset division, alimony disparities, counsel fee disagreement, and debt allocation.
The divorce master does not pass down any judgment, but instead, this person's main role is to ensure completeness of the information each side would have presented. Reviewing both testimony and evidence put forward, it becomes possible to give the couple the green light still move on to the trial phase, assuming the data presented is complete and sufficient.
With the pretrial phase complete, the divorce master then prepares a report for the courts, and this is coupled with a recommendation. Both divorcees are allowed to review the recommendation to decide if they agree or not. In the absence of agreement, an appeal can be filed.
Seth and his staff are very nice and helpful people. They are helping me through a very difficult time in my life and I'm glad to have them on my side to represent me. I highly recommend this firm.
- Shelby M.
Seth took the extra time to fully explain to me thoroughly in detail the answers to all of the questions i had. He sensed my urgency and immediately went to the courthouse to file.
- Michael B.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AHEAD WITH A CONTESTED DIVORCE
People are not usually ready for the effect that a contested divorce can have on their lives. Any divorce can be a challenge, but the uncooperative and sometimes contentious nature of contested ones creates delays and many unwanted feelings.
A longer divorce process creates a greater number of obstacles, though the resources available are intended to help disagreeing parties to come to a consensus.
Beyond the legal aspect of the whole ordeal, there is the matter of the potential emotional trauma that can be created. It would be in your best interest to retain a divorce attorney that offers counseling services to help you through this tough time. The qualified York, PA team at 999PAdivorce.com offers such as service to help you to move on to the next phase of your life and to navigate the chain of divorce-related matters with a level-headed approach.
Doing so requires you to be forward-thinking, even if this seems impossible immediately. However, thoughts and decisions supporting a better future can remove some of the emotional weight by allowing you to get an impression of what life may look like on the other side.
Establishing your interests and goals also creates a clearer picture of the areas you can compromise on if necessary. Additionally, a generally recommended course of action is to take advantage of collaborative or mediation resources, as they increase the possibility of the kind of agreement that is required for the proceedings to move forward.
Of course, you cannot always depend on this agreement happening, as even these resources are not enough to help some couples. In this instance, the interests, needs, and goals that you establish help your attorney to develop a sound litigation and negotiation strategy.
SEEK THE ADVICE AND EXPERTISE OF THE PROFESSIONALS
It's not hard to appreciate the extent to which a qualified divorce attorney is instrumental to the success and speediest potential resolution of a contested divorce. While your intention may be to get out of the situation and move on with your life in a beneficial way, many underlying legal principles must be a part of the decision-making process.