Defending Your Peace of Mind Contested Divorce

Supportive Counsel You Can Rely On

Fort Walton Beach Contested Divorce Attorney

What is a Contested Divorce?

While some marriages may end on mutual terms, with both spouses agreeing on every issue needed to finalize the divorce, many more divorces are contested. A contested divorce doesn't mean both parties disagree on every issue; one concern / disagreement is all it takes.

Sensitive topics to resolve in divorce include:

  • Alimony and temporary spousal support: Determining whether one spouse should provide financial support to the other, and if so, the amount and duration of the support.
  • Child custody: Deciding on custody arrangements for any children involved, including physical custody, legal custody, and visitation rights.
  • Child support: Establishing the financial support that one parent may need to provide to the custodial parent for the care and upbringing of the children.
  • Property division: Determining how marital property, assets, and debts will be divided between the spouses.
  • Legal Fees and Court Costs: Resolving disputes over the payment of attorney fees and court costs incurred during the divorce proceedings.
  • Retirement Accounts and Benefits: Dividing any retirement savings, pension plans, or other retirement benefits accumulated during the marriage.
  • Insurance Coverage: Deciding on issues related to health insurance, life insurance, and other insurance coverage for both spouses and any dependents.
  • Business Interests: Addressing the division of any jointly-owned businesses or business interests.
  • Debt Allocation: Allocating responsibility for any outstanding debts accrued during the marriage.

Contested Divorce Procedures

In Florida, contested divorces require routine petitions filed with the circuit court. The court clerk releases a summons directing either the sheriff or a private process server to personally deliver the filed petition to your spouse, who has 20 days to respond to your petition by filing their own pleadings.

It's also mandatory for both parties to complete a financial affidavit in order to provide "mandatory disclosure," which includes your income, budget, assets, and debts. If you and your spouse have children, a mandatory child support worksheet must be constructed as well. A copy of both the affidavit and worksheet must be filed with the court. You must also exchange copies with your spouse within 45 days after your spouse receives your petition for dissolution.

If there are issues which need immediate attention prior to resolution, such as alimony or child support, one or both spouses might file motions for "requests for temporary relief" with a judge. These orders expire once the divorce is finalized.

If not all of the facts are presented to reach a settlement, both spouses must exchange "discovery." This protocol includes subpoenas issued to financial organizations requesting documentation, documentation requests from the other spouse, and even interrogatories and dispositions.

Before a judge rules on a couple's unresolved issues, mediation involving a third party professional is required to attempt a negotiation regarding settlement. Once you attend meditation, a court will set a date for your trial.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the court may schedule a pretrial conference where the judge discusses the case with the parties and their attorneys to identify key issues and attempt to settle them. Both parties and their attorneys prepare for trial by gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and crafting legal arguments.

The divorce trial takes place in court. Both parties present their cases, including evidence and witnesses. The judge makes decisions on any contested issues.

After the trial, the judge issues a final judgment of divorce, outlining the terms of the divorce, including the resolution of all contested issues.

Either party may file post-trial motions to challenge certain aspects of the judgment. If unsatisfied with the outcome, a party may also consider filing an appeal.

Seek Representation from Our Trusted & Experienced Legal Team

If you are currently involved in a contested divorce, it's important to retain legal counsel from an experienced divorce attorney. At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., we provide our clients with personalized and compassionate representation in order to accomplish an equitable resolution.

Here are some advantages of having our legal representation:

  • Experienced Representation: We bring extensive legal knowledge and expertise to the table, ensuring that you are well-informed about your rights and options during the contested divorce proceedings.
  • Strategic Guidance: Our experienced attorneys can provide strategic guidance on navigating the complexities of a contested divorce. We help you understand the potential outcomes of various decisions and actions.
  • Case Preparation: We meticulously prepare your case, gathering relevant evidence, documentation, and witness testimonies to present a compelling argument in court. This preparation is crucial for achieving favorable outcomes.
  • Negotiation Skills: Contested divorces often involve negotiation. We leverage our negotiation skills to work towards fair settlements on issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.
  • Advocacy in Court: Should the case proceed to trial, our attorneys serve as strong advocates in court. We present your case persuasively, ensuring that your interests are effectively represented before the judge.
  • Compliance with Legal Procedures: The legal system has specific procedures and deadlines that must be followed. We ensure that all required documents are filed correctly and on time, preventing any potential setbacks in your case.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution: Our firm is well-versed in alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. We explore these options to potentially resolve issues without the need for a lengthy and costly trial.
  • Post-Divorce Assistance: Our commitment extends beyond the divorce trial. We assist with post-divorce matters, such as enforcing court orders or modifying agreements when circumstances change.
  • Customized Legal Strategies: Recognizing that each case is unique, we tailor our legal strategies to your specific situation. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome based on your individual needs and circumstances.
  • Emotional Support: Divorce is a highly emotional process, and having a dedicated legal team provides not only legal support but also emotional support. We are here to guide you through the challenges and uncertainties, offering reassurance and empathy.

With more than 100 years of combined experience in family law, our firm understands the complexities associated with divorce proceedings. Let us guide you through every step of the process so you can begin a new chapter in your life.

Contact us to get the dedicated assistance of our Fort Walton Beach contested divorce attorneys.

  • “I will definitely be recommending to anyone I know that needs a child custody or divorce attorney!” - A Divorce Client
  • “If you are looking for an attorney who is professional, honest, knowledgeable and responsive to your needs, Gerard Virga meets such requirements.” - A Divorce Client
  • “He responded to my messages promptly and I never felt rushed when speaking with him in meetings and phone conversations.” - A Divorce Client
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