What Happens During a Contested Divorce?

Of course, the preferred outcome in every divorce case is that it becomes uncontested and both parties sign a Marital Settlement Agreement resolving all issues including custody and parenting time, alimony if applicable, child support, and equitable distribution of all marital property and marital debts. However, this is not always possible, and a contested divorce is the result instead. Simply put, a contested divorce is when two parties cannot agree on how to divide marital assets or any other decisions regarding custody, alimony, child support, etc.

Here is a brief outline of the Contested Divorce process:

How Long Does It Take?

A contested divorce will usually take 12 to 24 months and occasionally up tp 36 months.  That is cleaarly much longer as an average uncontested divorce. This time period will vary quite a bit depending on how many aspects of of the divorce are uncontested. Note that even a single relatively minor issue that is not agreed upon will cause the case to become a contested one even if the two parties agree on the vast majority of the issues. However, in this case, it should take a much shorter time period to complete than would be the case if disagreements occur with a majority of the things that need to be decided Court hearings will need to be scheduled and the judge will likely order mediation to encourage an agreement between the parties. Depending on how many Court hearings are required will determine the length of the divorce case from start to finish.

First Step

The initial step is the service of the summons for a dissolution of marriage. This needs to be done by a process server.

Typically, it's done by a Deputy Sheriff who is 18 or older, and it must be given to the spouse or somebody he or she lives with or has authorized to legally accept his or her papers. This will hopefully be a short step in the process, but it can sometimes take weeks to complete if a current address is not known for your spouse.

The recipient will then have 20 days to respond with an answer or a counter-petition, although this can be extended as a professional courtesy between the attorneys.

Exchange of Financial Documents

Both parties will then need to exchange financial information such as bank statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns, and information related to things like stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and property owned. This step will usually take a few months.


Florida requires Court-Ordered mediation in all divorces which are scheduled for trial. A judge will order mediation as an attempt for the parties to find a resolution to their disputes. Both parties will attend the mediation with their respective divorce mediation attorneys. An independent mediator will listen to both sides and have a list of items that need to be resolved. The mediator will work with all parties to reach a resolution for some, if not all, of the issues so that a trial can be avoided. However, sometimes mediation will not result in an agreement, and a divorce trial is necessary.


The trial itself usually ranges in length from a few hours to several months. If necessary, the divorce trial will involve witness testimony and subpoenaed evidence, etc. The preparation for a contested divorce trial can take weeks and generate many thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Depositions sometimes take place in advance of a trial, especially if the facts of the case are in doubt. When
depositions occur, this usually indicates that the trial will be more complicated and last longer.

Need Help?

If you think your divorce is heading to divorce court and you are in need of an experienced divorce litigator, contact William J Leininger for a Free Consultation.

Mr. Leininger has 40 years of experience trying Divorce cases in Court. Many have involved bitter custody disputes, assets of up to $20,000,000.00, Orders of Protection, etc. Allow Mr. Leininger to  help you if your divorce case must go to trial. He will thoroughly prepare your case for trial and he will never stop fighting for your rights under the law.

Call Attorney William J Leininger at 941-727-5555 or contact us online for a Free Consultation in your divorce case. We have 40 years of Courtroom experience!  Reach out to us and let us know about your issue to learn how we can help you! The Consultation is totally free and no one will pressure you to hire our firm. What have you got to lose?

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