How to Change an Uncontested Divorce to a Contested Divorce in California

By David Montoya

Divorces in California fall under one of two categories: contested and uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, the husband and wife are not fighting over any issues. A contested divorce, on the other hand, may have one or more sticking points that require discussion, mediation or a decision from the judge. Sometimes, these disagreements become apparent once a party has already filed for an uncontested divorce with the court. California permits either party to change an uncontested divorce to a contested one.

Step 1

Look over your divorce paperwork to ensure the divorce action has been designated an uncontested divorce. This type of designation is assigned during the initial filing phase of the divorce. If you are the responding party, i.e. the party who did not originally file for divorce, you will automatically change the divorce action from uncontested to contested when you file your response with the court wherein you outline the terms you disagree with. By doing so, you alert the court that issues exists.

Step 2

Alert the court to any new disagreements with your spouse during the divorce hearings. Sometimes, disagreements on topics such as child support and alimony begin after the paperwork has been filed. This automatically changes the dynamics of the situation. The judge may require both parties to participate in mediation and attend a new hearing in an attempt to foster agreement between the parties.

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Step 3

Use mediation to come to an agreement with your spouse. Even if your mediation efforts are successful, it is still possible to change the divorce back into a contested one, if necessary. For example, suppose a couple turns an uncontested divorce into a contested one over child support. Even if mediation or discussions out of court result in a mutual agreement on the issue, either spouse may change the proceeding back into a contested divorce with a new disagreement, for example, by disagreeing about spousal support.

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