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How Do I Oppose Divorce?

How Do I Oppose Divorce

Figuring out your spouse wants to get divorced hurts. While your spouse may wish to file for divorce, you may disagree or be in denial about dissolving your marriage. While it is your legal right to do so, it could make life difficult for you and your spouse. Divorce is not an easy process and can become more complicated if one party decides not to participate. Ultimately, refusing to get divorced could also have negative effects on your future as well. However, in the event you would like to oppose a divorce, can you? Today, we go over if you can oppose a divorce and the impact of doing so.
Divorce is rarely easy on anyone. This is particularly true when one spouse opposes the divorce. What options do you have when your spouse files for divorce, but you don’t agree?

First, you should understand that if your spouse wants a divorce, they will most likely get it; the only question is how long and difficult the process will be. If your spouse decides to seek a divorce, they do not need to show any wrongdoing by you. They only need to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken; that is, that the two of you have irreconcilable differences and can no longer get along. But they do not need to provide proof of irreconcilable differences to file the divorce petition. A court may dismiss a divorce petition in limited situations, but these cases primarily involve one spouse being fraudulently induced or coerced to file the petition. These types of situations, fortunately, are few and far between. A court may also dismiss a divorce petition if the petition is not properly filed or served, but these issues only delay a court’s consideration of the petition. Eventually, your spouse will figure out how to get the petition in front of the court. What you can do is contest the divorce and argue that there are no irreconcilable differences that exist. But this does not mean that the court will deny the divorce petition. In Utah, when one spouse contests the existence of irreconcilable differences, the court has limited options. One option is for the court to delay the proceedings for up to 60 days and allow the parties to discuss their differences. But the court is unlikely to do this without some legitimate showing that there is any potential for reconciliation.

If you truly believe that you can repair the relationship, then you should ask the court to refer counseling. When the court agrees that counseling may be beneficial, they will ask the counseling service to report back to the court within 60 days. If the counseling service finds that the parties have reconciled, then the court will dismiss the divorce petition. If, on the other hand, after counseling your spouse still claims irreconcilable differences, the court will move on to consider how to divide your assets, whether either spouse is entitled to maintenance (Washington’s term for alimony) and how to address custody issues, eventually granting the divorce.

If you don’t agree with your spouse that irreconcilable differences exist, you should carefully discuss your options with an attorney.

What Happens if You Refuse to Get Divorced?

Unfortunately, you cannot simply refuse to get divorced and avoid the process. If your spouse files for divorce and you do not respond, your divorce will be put on hold and then become a contested divorce. If you fail to sign the divorce papers, your spouse may be awarded a default divorce. The downside to your spouse receiving a default divorce is that you will not be able to contest anything. A judge makes determinations based on whatever factors he/she has, which, in this case, would just be information your spouse provided. If you refuse to respond to being served divorce papers, the judge will make all his/her decisions based on whatever information your spouse brings up. Thus, unless you respond and contest certain matters, your spouse will receive the divorce on their terms.

On What Grounds Can You Oppose a Divorce?

You cannot oppose a divorce just because you do not want to get divorced. However, if there is a chance you and your spouse may resolve your differences and you both want to work together to accomplish this, you can oppose the divorce. However, you must both be willing to work together to make this happen. If you are able to reconcile, then the spouse who filed for divorce might reconsider the divorce.If you do not agree with certain terms of your divorce, then you can contest them. When you are served divorce papers you can dispute anything you do not agree with, including matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. You will want to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before doing so though to ensure your rights and interests are protected. You can also file a counterclaim with your proposed divorce terms. These discussions can quickly turn contentious, so it is important to continue to navigate this time with your lawyer’s help. You do have the option of trying to work out your differences with your spouse through mediation.

Reasons for Contesting a Divorce

Contested issues within a divorce can involve virtually anything that becomes a point of contention between the parties. One might have difficulty deciding how finances should be split, who gets the house, or even child custody rights. There are five main reasons why a lawyer would recommend that you contest your divorce, including:

The Concealment of Assets

Unfortunately, it is fairly common for spouses to hide things from each other during the marriage and when going through a divorce – including items that are financial in nature. When a spouse conceals assets from a court, the judge will not be able to take the value of these items into account when it comes to deciding how to divide the property between the parties. Additionally, such assets may also have an impact on the determination of spousal maintenance, if any, and child support. Because a contested divorce is litigated, it gives each spouse access to discovery tools that can help identify all assets in question, which can help put the parties on a level playing field.

The Best Interests of Children

If parents disagree regarding co-parenting arrangements, a contested divorce is required in order to get a court ruling on custody and/or visitation. This is because a judge is required to make a finding that best serves the best interests of the child or children involved. This process includes the consideration of factors like the emotional and physical needs of the children, each parent’s ability to provide for the children, any past acts or omissions by a parent that could indicate trouble within the parent-child relationship, as well as the wishes of the child or children themselves.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal support is necessary in many situations following a divorce; however, it’s not uncommon for spouses to disagree. In a contested divorce, it must be proved to the court that the party seeking financial support gave up significant opportunities during the marriage. A judge can approve a request for spousal support for a variety of valid reasons, including one of the parties left school to get a job while the other obtained a degree, one spouse suffers from an impairment that leaves them unable to work, or if a spouse cannot work because they are the caregiver for a disabled child.

Abuse in the Marriage

Unfortunately, many divorces involve those who were psychologically or physically abusive to their partner. While divorcing an abusive spouse can bring light at the end of a dark time, it can be difficult, as abusive spouses likely want to interfere with the divorce proceedings as much as possible. Because of this, having an experienced divorce attorney as well as insight from the court in a contested divorce can help ensure all items are accounted for without interference from the abusive party.

Spouse is Unwilling to Compromise and Has Unrealistic Expectations

In the event a spouse assumes they are entitled to unreasonable terms, a contested divorce is in the best interests of both sides. It is impossible to resolve all related family law issues with someone unwilling to compromise or negotiate. Pursuing a contested divorce may be cumbersome; however, it helps avoid an incredibly one-sided and/or unfair divorce settlement.

Contested Divorce Instructions

Much of the same basic information provided for uncontested divorce applies to divorce cases that are “contested”. That is, a divorce petition is filed by one spouse and served upon the other spouse by a constable or the Sheriff’s office. Along with that petition is a document called a Summons. The Summons gives directions to the person being served about what they need to do if they do not agree with what is in the petition served upon him or her. If that person does not agree they must file a written “Answer” to the petition with the court clerk and send a copy to the attorney for the person filing the petition.

Moving Into Discovery

After you file for divorce, the divorce papers have been served and the appropriate spouse has responded to the divorce petition — which is typically required within 30 days — the next step is to move into the stages of discovery during the contested divorce process. In order for discovery to go smoothly, it is crucial to have meticulously prepared a significant amount of paperwork beforehand, detailing your shared assets, incomes, documentation of children parented by the spouses, shared debt, and any other relevant details.

With this information in hand, it will be much easier for each spouse’s attorney to get a clear idea of the previous marital situation and therefore determine what each spouse is entitled to.
Each party has a specific amount of time to carry out discovery proceedings. Ensure that your attorney remains vigilant and stays in constant contact with your spouse’s attorney — this will prevent him or her from attempting to hide assets or generally slowing down the process to delay the divorce. You need to trust that you have the best divorce attorney, as your attorney could have a significant impact on the outcome of your settlement.

Temporary Orders

Between the time the divorce action is commenced and the time it is completed the court has the authority to make and enforce Temporary Orders regarding such matters as child support, child custody, alimony, possession of the house, visitation, payment of bills, possession of personal property, etc. These orders are temporary because such matters will be reviewed again at the time of the divorce hearing or trial. Final orders regarding these matters will be entered as part of the divorce decree.

Child Custody

If you want to seek custody of your child or children, the time of the divorce action is the time to seek custody, as opposed to seeking custody later after the divorce is completed. The fundamental basis for determining custody is what is in the “best interest of the child”. This can involve numerous elements, and quite often it is necessary to obtain a “Custody Evaluation”.

This is almost always required by the court in custody cases. These evaluations are generally performed by psychologists, usually with a Ph.D. degree in psychology. The prices can vary depending upon the evaluator, the number of children involved, the amount of time to be spent, etc… The cost can range from around $3,800.00 up to $15,000.00, with the average running from $6,000.00 to $8,500.00. Obviously, they are expensive, but they are an essential part of a custody case.

Divorce Settlement

Once all temporary orders are taken care of and each divorce attorney in Utah has gone through discovery, both parties will be encouraged to reach a settlement. Though the spouses have the possibility of attending divorce court, it is preferable to reach an agreement beforehand, whether on their own terms or with the help of a third-party mediator.

Reaching a settlement independently increases the likelihood that the spouses will have a mutually satisfactory compromise when it comes to assets, custody, debt distribution and more. However, as is to be expected, a peaceful settlement is not always possible between the spouses as negotiated by the Utah divorce lawyers. If that is the case, each attorney will continue the discovery phase and await a court date for their clients. How quickly the case goes to trial is determined by numerous factors, including how busy the divorce courts are at that particular time.

Going To Trial

Although the idea of going to court can be daunting, the next step to resolve a contested divorce is to attend a trial date in divorce court.

Trial is the time for each spouse’s legal team to present witnesses, cross-examine the other party’s witnesses, and finally, make convincing closing arguments for why each spouse deserves what they are asking. Witnesses may be chosen for their ability to attest to a spouse’s character, which could be beneficial regarding custody struggles.

After hearing each side’s legal arguments, the presiding judge will write a final order that states the resolution of all of the issues presented during the hearing. The length of time that it takes for the judge to make his or her final decision is directly correlated to how complicated the case is.

Making Post-Trial Motions and Appeals in Divorce Cases

Even after the trial date and the issuance of the judge’s final order, either spouse can fight to continue the divorce trial if they so choose. If he or she is dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, either party can file a post-trial motion in an attempt to re-try their case and potentially gain more in a future settlement. Post-trial motions should be filed within 30 days of the judge’s recent decision and the other spouse will have 30 days to respond to said motion. If the motion is granted by a judge, either attorney can present their arguments as to why the final order was or was not fair for their client. However, if the post-trial motion is not granted, the final route is to file an appeal within 30 days of the final order or the denied post-trial motion. Once oral arguments are presented by each spouse’s legal representation, the court will make its ultimate decision. At that point, the case will either be reversed and go back to court, or it can be affirmed, reaching its end.

Free Consultation with Divorce Law Firm

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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