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How to Prepare for a Contested Divorce

Divorce is one of the hardest decisions any married person will have to face. This decision can be complicated by a wide range of factors, from mental health issues to the custody of any children you and your spouse might have together. In some cases, these complications can lead to a contested divorce. This simply means that your spouse disagrees with one or more terms of the arrangement.

Although it’s a myth that your spouse can delay your divorce by refusing to give consent or sign papers, a contested divorce is still a complex and often painful process. At Myers Family Law, our Granite Bay divorce attorneys have experience handling some of the most difficult divorce cases, especially those where mental health issues like personality disorders come into play. If you expect to face a contested divorce, read on to learn how to prepare for the impact, and how to conduct yourself accordingly.

Contested Divorce in Northern California: What to Expect

Because the term “contested divorce” refers more to the disagreement between two spouses than to an actual legal definition, it will proceed much the same way as an uncontested divorce. You will file a petition for the dissolution of your marriage, and once it is served to your spouse, they can decide how to formally respond to your request. From there, hearings and divorce court meetings will cover major issues like financial asset distribution, child custody arrangements, parenting time, and living arrangements. Because California allows you to divorce even if your partner does not consent, you

However, as straightforward as it may sound on paper, a contested divorce can have a deep psychological impact on both parties, and may cause significant emotional strain on your family. Regardless of the issue that your spouse wants to contest, disagreement of any kind can lead to drawn-out and bitter legal battles, with thousands of dollars spent on court fees and other necessities.

Preparing Yourself Mentally for Contested Divorce

Here are some guidelines for handling a contested divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible:

  • Avoid the temptation to retaliate. If your spouse is already refusing to agree to reasonable terms, you may be incredibly frustrated and want to seek retribution. As tempting as it may be, refrain from the urge to purposely delay divorce proceedings, or use the public setting of a courtroom to air private grievances. In the end, you will only add stress and significant financial costs to your own plate. Your ultimate goal should be to move forward with your life, and to mitigate the tension both of you may be experiencing.
  • Communicate sparingly, but respectfully, with your soon-to-be ex. Because of the intense emotions involved in ending a marriage, speaking to your future ex-spouse may only aggravate existing disagreements. It’s best to steer clear of unnecessary conversations. When you do need to discuss divorce proceedings with them, try to remain as civil and respectful as possible, and ask your lawyer to come along if you do not feel comfortable alone.
  • Do not frame your divorce as a win-lose scenario. A marriage is ultimately a legally-binding contract, one in which both parties have needs and desires that must be taken into consideration. This is also true in divorce. Resist the urge to see your divorce as a means to “win,” and focus instead on healthy compromise that will make sense for your future lives.
  • Do not make excuses for your spouse’s bad behavior. According to divorce expert Dr. Mark Banschick, in a “malignant” or high-conflict divorce there is often one partner who seeks to avenge perceived wrongdoing, and a more nurturing spouse who excuses their bad behavior. If you are looking to file a divorce, you may fall into the latter category, so it’s crucial that you do not give in to unreasonable demands, abusive behavior, or irrational emotional displays. This will only keep the cycle of disagreement going, and feed into your future ex-spouse’s desire for conflict.

Our divorce lawyers at Myers Family Law know how difficult this time can be. In over 25 years of family law practice, we have witnessed many high conflict and contested divorce cases, and successfully guided our clients to positive resolutions. As certified mediators, you can rest assured that we will give you the compassionate counsel you need during this difficult time.

Contact Myers Family Law today for a low-cost consultation. We serve clients in Northern California, including areas throughout Granite Bay, Placer County, and Sacramento.

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