A contested divorce is where the spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more of the outstanding issues, and the matter goes to court in front of a judge to get resolved. In a contested divorce, you and your spouse may disagree on any number of things including parenting arrangements (custody and access), child support, spousal support, property and debt division, or pension division. A contested divorce can only be started by filing a Petition for Divorce.
Remember: a divorce can settle at any time if the parties reach an agreement. See the section called ‘Resolving outstanding issues.’
When you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, you will have to file for divorce using a Petition for Divorce. You can’t file a joint application or an application by written agreement unless you and your spouse have agreed on everything.
When filing a Petition for Divorce, the spouses are referred to as the ‘petitioner’ and the ‘respondent.’
A Petition for Divorce is filed in two ‘stages.’ The first set of documents starts the process. A second set of documents is filed later. Which second set of documents is required will depend on whether or not your spouse contests the divorce.
If you will be filing a Petition for Divorce, continue on to the next sections that talk about preparing, filing and serving a Petition for Divorce.
If you will be filing a Joint Application for divorce, or an Application for Divorce by Written Agreement, click here to skip the Petition for Divorce sections.