Contested Divorce

When a divorce is "contested," the term does not necessarily apply to the spouses being in disagreement about the prospect of filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. Rather, divorce is considered contested when the spouses cannot agree on one or more issues involved in the divorce.

A contested divorce can become much more expensive to resolve than an uncontested divorce because such cases may involve multiple court appearances.

The highly emotional nature of divorce often makes it difficult for spouses to come to an agreement on multiple issues, which is why it is often beneficial for both parties to have legal representation.

Attorney for Contested Divorce in Pensacola, FL

Are you planning on filing for divorce in the Florida Panhandle, but have significant disagreements with your spouse about the terms of your divorce decree? You should not delay in contacting The Law Office of James M. Burns.

James M. Burns is an experienced divorce lawyer in Pensacola who represents clients in communities throughout Escambia County and Santa Rosa County, including Navarre, Milton, Pace, Perdido Key, Fort Walton Beach, and many others.

Call (850) 457-6002 right now to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.

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Florida Contested Divorce Information Center

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Contested Divorce Process in Escambia County

A contested divorce begins with one spouse filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court. The court will then issue a summons directing a private process server (usually a deputy sheriff) to hand-deliver the filed petition to the spouse or a person the spouse lives with or has been authorized to accept such papers legally. 

The spouse has 20 days to respond or counter-petition, although this may be extended in certain circumstances. Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure § 12.285 establishes requirements relating to mandatory disclosure of financial documents in contested divorces. Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure § 12.285(d) lists 16 different documents that must be served in any proceeding for an initial or supplemental request for permanent financial relief, including, but not limited to, a request for child support, alimony, equitable distribution of assets or debts, or attorneys’ fees, suit money, or costs.

During a contested divorce, a spouse may file a request for temporary relief relating to issues requiring more immediate resolution, such as child support, child custody, or alimony. Under Florida Statute § 61.183(1), the court can refer spouses to mediation, in accordance with the rules promulgated by The Florida Supreme Court when issues of parental responsibility, primary residence, access to, visitation with, or support of a child are contested.

The final stage in a contested divorce is the trial, which allows both spouses to appear in court and present their cases. The judge may be able to make a ruling immediately after the conclusion of the trial, but it can frequently take weeks or possibly even months before a final decision is rendered. Both parties have the right to appeal the decision of the trial court.

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Common Issues in Pensacola Contested Divorces

Every divorce is different, but certain issues seem to be commonly disputed. Three of the most frequently debated areas of a divorce decree include:

  • Time-sharing and child support if they have dependent children;


  • How much alimony will be paid and for how long (if at all); and


  • Division of assets and liabilities.

Mediation may resolve these issues, but a judge will otherwise make a final determination if the contested divorce goes to trial.

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Contested Divorce Resources in Florida

Divorce / Dissolution of Marriage | Escambia County ClerkOn this section of the Escambia County Clerk's Office website, you can learn more about filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. The website has answers to many frequently asked questions. You can also find links to state, local, and family law resources.

Escambia County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Family Law Division

190 W. Government St., Room 23012

Pensacola, FL 32502

(850) 595-4331 

Consumer Pamphlet: Divorce In Florida | The Florida Bar — The Florida Bar is the third largest unified state bar association in the United States. Visit this section of the Florida Bar website to find a pamphlet providing an overview of divorces in the Sunshine State. You can learn more about parenting plan considerations, tax considerations, and appeals.

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Find a Contested Divorce Lawyer in Pensacola, FL

If you are filing for divorce in the Florida Panhandle but cannot come to an agreement with your spouse over the terms of your divorce decree, you will want to retain legal counsel for assistance protecting your rights. The Law Office of James M. Burns helps individuals in Perdido Key, Pace, Milton, Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, and many surrounding areas of Escambia County and Santa Rosa County.

Pensacola divorce attorney James M. Burns can work to help you achieve the most desirable resolution to your situation. You can have our lawyer review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (850) 457-6002 or fill out an online contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation. 

This article was last updated on Friday, February 9, 2018.