A Contested Divorce is where the responding party to the divorce objects to the divorce and attempts to prevent the filing party from getting the divorce. New York was the only state that still required fault grounds for parties to divorce until 2010. All other states have some form of no-fault grounds.

Contesting a divorce in the United States today is an exercise in futility if the objective of contesting the divorce is to prevent the divorce. Most judges would consider the fact that one spouse wanted the divorce while the other spouse did not as evidence of the fact that the marriage is irretrievably broken or irreconcilable differences exist, which gives rise to no-fault grounds for divorce.

Contesting the divorce could serve several purposes:

  • It would make the divorce process more expensive;
  • It could be used as a delaying tactic to gain leverage over the filing spouse either for custody, spousal support or property division;
  • It would require parties to appear at a hearing.

Contesting the divorce to make it more expensive for the petitioner is counterproductive. It uses up assets that could be used for child or spousal support and increases animosity between parties. A contested divorce will delay matters because the divorce hearing would have to be heard before a judge instead of a master, which is usually faster. It may make the petitioning spouse more responsive to giving the objecting spouse what that spouse wants in terms of support, custody or property division, but it could also have the opposite effect.

A contested divorce would require the parties to the divorce to appear at a hearing before a judge. If your goal in doing this is to be able to have your day in court and tell the court how much of a jerk the petitioner is, you are wasting time and effort. It generally takes longer to get on a judge’s docket for a contested divorce than a master. This might mean waiting an additional six months or a year before the divorce is heard. Assuming that you have valid grounds for contesting the divorce, by the time you get to the judge, you and your spouse may have been separated long enough that the divorce could be granted on no-fault grounds.

Be aware that at best, contesting a divorce will only delay the divorce. Eventually the spouse who wants the divorce will get it because the court will not force people who do not want to be together to stay together. Use your energies for something more important.


Comments are closed.