A contested divorce happens when the divorcing spouses are not able to reach agreements on how to separate from the marriage. The dispute typically involves the division of property or support.
The process begins with serving a pleading called a “complaint for divorce”. The complaint will identify the facts underlying the issues and will ask for the relief sought. The complaint is then “served” on the other party. The other party responds to the complaint with a pleading called an “answer to the complaint”, and is typically accompanied by a counter-complaint.
After the filing of the initial pleadings, the parties then engage in the “discovery process”. Discovery is typically comprised of five different processes:
These are written questions issued by one spouse to the other. The maximum number of questions that can be issued are 30, The other spouse has 30 days after service of the interrogatories to provide written answers to the questions.
Each party has the right to demand a production of documents from the other. Documents requested may include bank statements, income related documents, credit card statements, expense records, and the like.
Each party has the right to take the deposition of the other party. When a party is deposed, the party is placed under oath by a court stenographer. The opposing side asks the party questions relevant to the divorce. Questions may explore things like income, fault in the breakdown of the marriage, and asset identification or tracing.
Request for Admissions are another written form of discovery. Requests are typically tailor-made to fit the issues and the parties in each case. The requests are used to establish a relevant facts in the litigation. They are also used to establish the position of the other side. For example, if you are alleging domestic violence you may propound a request like “You committed domestic violence against your spouse.” Admit/Deny The other party must either admit or deny the statement.
Each party has the right to subpoena documents from third parties or entities that are relevant to issues in the divorce. For example, bank records, credit card statements or employment records are all subject to subpoena.