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Your contested case: Negotiation is your best option

Contested divorces are some of the most difficult to deal with because you and your spouse cannot agree on issues like child custody or how you'll divide your marital assets. As a result, you will have to wait longer for the divorce to be finalized.

In contested cases, both spouses usually obtain their own attorneys to help them negotiate or fight through their case in court. It is usually in your best interests to work on a resolution in mediation or through direct negotiations, but your attorney should also be prepared to represent you at trial if necessary.

Most contested divorces go through a few phases. The first step is to meet your attorney and serve the divorce petition. Then, you meet with your attorney to discuss the issues you're having during the divorce. Next, you'll go through the discovery process, finding all your assets and debts.

Once that stage is done, you begin negotiating. Divorce settlements should, in most cases, be finalized before going to court, so that the judge can make the settlement legal. However, if you cannot agree, you can leave certain decisions for the judge to make. Know that if you do so, the judge's decision is likely final and may not be easy to alter, so negotiating before trial is usually the best choice.

If court does not go as planned, you can appeal or seek to modify aspects of the divorce agreement in the future. You'll want to maintain contact with your attorney following the finalization of your divorce if you intend to appeal a decision.

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