Contested Process

If your spouse or domestic partner has filed a petition and you file a response and disagree with what your spouse or partner is asking for, you are involved in a contested case.

The case can be contested because you do not agree with anything your spouse or partner is asking for. Or you may agree on some issues but not others. If this is the case, you can write up your agreement on the issues you worked out and leave the other issues for a judge to decide.

If you are in a contested case, you may want to try mediation to resolve your case yourselves and not leave the decision up to a judge. If you and your spouse or domestic partner can reach an agreement on all or at least some of the issues in your divorce or legal separation, you can save yourselves time and money, as well as the emotional stress of fighting over these issues in court.

In most courts, when there are issues you cannot resolve by agreement, one of you has to file and serve a form to set a trial date. Also, most courts usually require the parties to attend a settlement conference before the trial. Ask the court clerk what your next step should be and whether there are any special, local forms you need to fill out. Click to find the website, address, and telephone number of your local court.

If you and your spouse or domestic partner want help to settle your case, ask the court clerk or family law facilitator at your local court if there are any mediation programs available.

If you have a contested case, talk to a family law facilitator or a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer.

The information we provide you on this Online Self-Help Center is very general and cannot provide you the level of detail and information you will need to handle your contested case. The steps to follow in contested cases vary a lot depending on the individual circumstances in your case.