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How To Contest A Divorce Filing
Every state has its own laws regarding the divorce process; to find out about the divorce laws in your area, please consult a local divorce attorney.
The Basics of Filing
All divorces begin with a petition for dissolution of marriage and a summons for the other party to respond to the petition. This is filed with the state court and is served to the other spouse. Once the receiving spouse, the respondent, has the petition he or she will have a chance to review the document and decide how they want to answer it. This is the stage where the respondent can agree and comply with the divorce filing or contest it.
The respondent next has to file their response to the petition; this is a document that answers all of the charges made in the initial petition and answer any accusations they wish to contest. The respondent usually has a certain amount of time within which to file their response; this is typically stated within the petition and summons paperwork. Within the response, the respondent can contest the grounds of the divorce or why the petitioner wishes to divorce. Adultery or abuse are some examples of grounds or the terms. Terms like child support or alimony are examples of terms. Since the respondent is not agreeing with the information contained within the petition the court will automatically set a hearing date if one has not already been set.
Make Your Case
At the hearing, the respondent will have a chance to provide their disputing evidence. If the dispute is to grounds, the petitioner will have to prove their claim to the court. For example, if the grounds of the divorce are abandonment and the state law says that abandonment is 12 months without continuous cohabitation, the petitioner must provide the court with evidence that the couple have not lived together within the preceding 12 months. Otherwise, the respondent can come in and provide proof that they have lived together within the last 12 months. The party wishing to contest must disprove the evidence provided in the grounds.
In no-fault divorce states, or states where grounds are not needed to file, either party can contest the divorce's terms. One of the most commonly contested terms is that of child custody. If the petition says that the petitioner will take full custody of the couple's children, the respondent can contest and ask for full or joint custody of the children. At any point of contest, the parties will go through extensive negotiation to try and resolve the issues fairly.