In an uncontested divorce, the party on whom the divorce complaint is filed (technically, the defendant) does not challenge the allegations in the complaint. That may come about because the defendant elects not to respond at all to the complaint for divorce. In such circumstances, the party who filed the complaint will typically be entitled to what is known as “default judgment.” In other situations, the party upon whom the complaint was filed may answer the complaint, but raise no objections. In either instance, the court will subsequently enter a divorce decree or order, identifying the terms of custody and visitation, support and the distribution of property.
With a contested divorce, though, the process is very different. A divorce becomes contested when the party upon whom the complaint is filed responds, challenging any assertion in the complaint. The divorce proceeding then moves forward toward trial. On the way to trial, a number of things can happen to terminate the process:
- The parties can negotiate a settlement
- The parties can use mediation to resolve their differences
- The parties can reconcile and the complaint can be withdrawn
If none of these events occurs, the parties will typically go through a discovery period, where both sides gather evidence to support their claims. During this period, depositions may take place and parties may be required to produce documents, such as financial records. The court will likely encourage the parties, throughout the discovery process, to find a way to settle the disputes without a trial.
At the office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, we have more than 25 years of family law experience. We’ll help you stay focused on what matters. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.