When Might an Uncontested Divorce Become Contested?

In Arizona, as elsewhere in the nation, divorce cases can take different paths depending on the spouses’ willingness to cooperate. Whether a divorce will be contested or uncontested is usually clear at the onset and will determine how the court will manage it. However, there are cases in which the spouses start out with the best intentions to cooperate, only to throw the uncontested divorce off track when disagreements arise. At that juncture, it is necessary to come up with other solutions.

Uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. They must further agree on how to divide up the property and debts of the marriage, on whether spousal maintenance (alimony) should be paid and on how child custody and child support will be awarded and managed. But although the spouses might agree in principle, the devil is often in the details.

One reason that a divorce may move from the uncontested to the contested track is that stumbling blocks arise in negotiating the specifics of a settlement agreement. Common points of friction concern the amount of spousal maintenance and the distribution of particular assets such as the marital home, luxury items like boats and recreational vehicles and ownership shares in a family business.

Another reason for pivoting from an uncontested to a contested divorce is when one spouse believes the other is hiding assets or otherwise not being honest in disclosing all assets and debts. Once the spouses no longer trust each other’s credibility about their finances, the prospects for a settlement are greatly diminished.

Still another common flashpoint concerns issues of child support and child custody, which are often intertwined. When disputes arise that affect the children, the court must make decisions in a way that protects the children’s best interests. There can be no bargaining of child support payments in return for concessions as to parenting time.

If you are attempting an uncontested divorce with your former spouse but have concerns, you may want to speak with a knowledgeable Arizona divorce attorney about the pros and cons of moving to a contested divorce proceeding.

At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. inn Scottsdale, Arizona, we understand that sometimes negotiated divorce is not in the best interest of both parties. If you have questions or need representation, please call our office at 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a consultation.