Steps Involved in a Contested Divorce

Going through a divorce can be difficult. It is especially complicated for those who are involved in a contested divorce. A contested divorce is one where parties do not agree on the issues or to the settlement terms. It is helpful to understand the steps involved in a contested divorce, which can take longer than an uncontested divorce. The first step in any divorce is for one party to file a petition for dissolution of marriage.

You Should File a Formal Response

Once you receive the divorce papers you should file a formal response. The response is a formal entry into the divorce proceeding that will prevent you from being defaulted against. It is a document that generally states the areas of agreement or disagreement regarding the issues. In Arizona, you must file a response within 20 days if you were served within the State. If you were served outside of Arizona, you will have 30 days to file a response. The failure to respond within the time limit allows the petitioner to request the divorce move forward without your input. It is essential that you respond in order to provide input. In a contentious divorce, it is advisable to seek legal guidance from the start of the process.

Early Resolution Management Conference (ERC)

In cases where parties are in immediate disagreement regarding the terms of the divorce settlement, parties may be required to attend an early resolution management conference. The ERC is a meeting to determine the areas of agreement, or disagreement. Both parties are required to attend this conference. A case manager will provide assistance in filling out paperwork on issues to which both parties are in agreement.

Attend Hearings and Prepare for Trial

In contested divorces, efforts must be made to try to resolve disputes and come to a resolution that both people agree with. If disputes continue, parties may need to attend hearings, provide depositions, and prepare for trial. The main issues that must be resolved include child custody and visitation, division of property, and distribution of debts. In some situations, mediation may be helpful.

Meet with a Mediator to Resolve Disputes

A mediator is a professional who specializes in working with couples to resolve difficult divorce issues. Mediation can be requested by the parties, or could be court-ordered. Both parties meet with the mediator, who will facilitate discussions that could bring about agreement on complicated matters. If an agreement is not made, the divorce will proceed to trial. The judge will then review the information and provide a ruling.

Divorce issues can cause serious complications in the process. An experienced divorce attorney will help guide you through the divorce, and can help prevent disagreements from becoming too serious. When you are going through a contested divorce, count on the compassionate legal team at Udall Shumway PLC to assist you. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Contested Divorce, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Steven H. Everts at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.