What is a Contested Divorce?


A contested divorce is a legal classification for a type of divorce. There are three different types of divorces in Florida: simplified, non-contested, and contested. Simplified divorces are rare but may be granted if no one requests spousal support, the couple does not have children, and they share no mutual assets. Non-contested divorces are given when a couple with no children generally agrees on how to divide property and joint assets. When a couple disagrees about any aspect of the divorce petition or has children, the divorce is considered “contested.” Contested divorces are the most common type of divorce. Learn more about contested divorce and how to file one below. 

When To File a Contested Divorce 

If you or your spouse disagree about any aspect of the divorce petition, your divorce will be contested. Divorces involving minor children are also classified as contested. Disagreements may occur over any element of the divorce proceeding, whether it is about child custody or alimony payments. 

How to File a Contested Divorce

When you work with a family law attorney to file for divorce, you do not need to specify what type of divorce you are filing. Your attorney will make the classification for you when filing the petition based on your situation. Here are the steps for filing a contested divorce: 

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage 

This petition is the official record stating that you would like to dissolve your marriage. This petition will also state the terms you would like included with the divorce decree. This petition is formally filed in a family court.


Once you file the petition, your spouse (referred to as the “respondent”) will have 20 days to prepare and file a reply. In the response, your spouse may admit or deny specific claims and make their own requests (called a counter-petition) to your initial petition. 


After the petition is filed and a response or counter-claim is made, you and your spouse’s attorney will collect evidence and information about the claims made in the petition. During this phase, you will be requested to provide information about your current finances, employment, and assets. During this process, witnesses may be called on for interviews or depositions to confirm or deny the allegations in the petition.



Florida family law attorneys will use the information they gathered during the discovery process to resolve the issues presented by the petition or counter-claim. The goal during this process is to leave on amicable terms with arrangements for child custody, asset division, and spousal support. If a couple has difficulty reaching an agreement, a mediator may be appointed to the case. If the spouses cannot agree after this step, the case will go to trial.   


Although most divorces settle during the negotiation phase, the case will go to trial if a couple still cannot agree after mediation. Once a divorce case enters the trial phase, the couple has little control over the outcome of the divorce decree. The judge will hear testimony from both spouses and then make a judgment. If you disagree with the final divorce decree, you may file an appeal within 30 days of the initial ruling.

Temporary Relief for a Contested Divorce 

Contested divorce proceedings may be complicated and time-consuming. Contested divorces may take anywhere from six months to over a year to negotiate and settle. In this situation, a spouse may file for temporary support for things like child and spousal support while the divorce is finalized. 

Frank P. Remsen: Florida Family Law and Divorce Attorney 

It is essential that you work with an experienced divorce attorney to help fight for your desires regarding spousal support, child support, or custody arrangements during divorce proceedings. Frank P. Remsen has handled divorce proceedings throughout Central Florida and will help you achieve a settlement that works for you. Contact us at 352-309-0970 for a consultation today.