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At K. Dean Kantaras, P.A., we understand the value of pursuing a peaceful resolution in the divorce process. Unfortunately, it's not always possible for two spouses to compromise on terms of their divorce. If your soon-to-be-ex refuses to engage in good-faith negotiations, a contested divorce can help you get the results you deserve from the divorce process.
Our Palm Harbor contested divorce attorneys will advocate for your rights and pursue your best interests in the courtroom, helping you achieve the ideal outcome in your divorce.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce occurs when the parties disagree on how to handle one or more aspects of the divorce. Spouses commonly disagree on how to handle various divorce-related processes, such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony.
If you and your spouse agree on how to proceed with every facet of your divorce, you should file for an uncontested divorce. You can visit our uncontested divorce page to learn more.
Many divorces start out contested and transition into an uncontested divorce over time as the parties negotiate and compromise on terms with each other. In fact, many courts request that spouses engage in a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, before continuing their divorce in court.
How Do I File for a Contested Divorce in Florida?
We covered the first steps of filing for divorce in Florida on our general divorce page, but here's a rundown of how you can file for divorce in Tampa:
- Fill out and file a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" form with the clerk's office at your county court. A divorce lawyer can help you fill out the forms accurately and ensure you file them correctly. As the person filing for divorce, you'll be called "the petitioner" during legal proceedings.
- Serve your spouse (the respondent) with a notice of the divorce. The respondent has 20 days after being served to file a response to the petition. A neutral third party, like a law enforcement officer, must serve the respondent.
- Fill out financial affidavits. You and your spouse must each fill out a financial affidavit listing all of your assets and debts. This affidavit helps the court determine what an equitable division of assets and liabilities would look like in your divorce.
- Attend court hearings. In a contested divorce, both parties attend court hearings represented by their attorneys. During the hearings, your attorneys will present evidence and arguments for how to handle issues like property division and custody while the divorce occurs.
- Negotiation. As we mentioned earlier, many courts ask spouses to go through mediation or a similar process and attempt to resolve their differences. Courts often prefer to avoid a court-ordered divorce decree when possible. However, in situations where the spouses fail to compromise on terms for the divorce even after negotiations, the court will handle the divorce. Courts may also forego negotiations if one spouse commits an action, like domestic abuse, that creates a power imbalance in the relationship.
- Attend trial. Finally, both parties attend a trial, where attorneys get to question witnesses and present their evidence and closing arguments for how to handle the divorce.
- Receive the court's judgment. The judge presiding over the case will use the information to draft a divorce decree the court thinks is equitable for both parties. The judge will sign the decree, finalizing the divorce. Both parties must comply with the court's judgment.
At K. Dean Kantaras, P.A., our Tampa contested divorce lawyers are here to help you pursue the best possible outcome in your divorce. We'll work tirelessly to defend your rights and advocate for your best interests in and out of the courtroom.
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