Contested divorce in California presents a challenging chapter in the lives of those involved, marked by disagreements and disputes that extend beyond the decision to part ways.  

This type of divorce unfolds when both parties cannot find common ground on key aspects such as property division, child custody, spousal support, or other significant matters, leading to a more complicated and often stressful legal process.  

While nobody enters marriage with the anticipation of such a tumultuous divorce, the reality for some couples is that reaching an amicable resolution requires the intervention of the court system.  

The paths that divorce takes can vary greatly depending on the unique circumstances of each case. At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we understand that experiencing a contested divorce is an emotionally-taxing process, and we want to help you through it by protecting your rights and fighting for your interests.  

Based in San Jose and Morgan Hill, our dedicated team serves clients throughout Fremont, Hayworth, Alameda County, and Santa Clara County, providing personalized guidance and representation in these challenging times. 

Understanding Contested Divorce in California 

A contested divorce in California occurs when spouses cannot agree on one or more major issues related to the dissolution of their marriage. This stands in contrast to an uncontested divorce, where both parties reach a mutual agreement without the need for court intervention.  

The crux of a contested divorce often lies in disputes over child custody, visitation rights, child and spousal support, and the equitable division of marital assets and debts. 

Timeline and Delays 

The timeline for a contested divorce in California can range significantly, often taking a year or more to resolve, especially if the case goes to trial. Factors such as court backlogs and the complexity of the disputes can introduce delays, extending the emotional and financial strain on all parties involved. 



The Legal Process of Contested Divorce 

The legal process for a contested divorce begins with one spouse filing a divorce petition, which is then served to the other spouse. This marks the commencement of a series of legal steps designed to bring the case to resolution: 

  • Filing of the Petition: The process starts with filing a divorce petition in the family court within the county of residence. 

  • Serving the Spouse: The divorce papers need to be officially served to the other party, ensuring they are aware of the legal action. 

  • Discovery: Both parties engage in discovery, a phase where financial documents and other relevant information are exchanged and inspected. 

  • Negotiations and Mediation: Before the trial, there's an opportunity for both parties to negotiate terms, often with the assistance of mediation or arbitration, to reach a settlement. 

  • Trial: If negotiations fail, the divorce will proceed to trial, where a judge will make the final decisions on any contested issues. 

  • Judgment: The divorce is finalized with a court judgment that outlines the dissolution of the marriage and the agreements reached concerning all contested issues. 

Why Divorces Become Contested 

Several factors can lead a divorce to become contested. High-stakes issues such as disagreements over how to raise children, who gets what in terms of property, or how much support is to be paid from one spouse to another are common causes for disputes that challenge the ability to easily reach an agreement. 

The Role of Mediation and Arbitration 

We at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer strongly advocate for mediation and arbitration as effective means to resolve disputes outside the courtroom. These methods offer a more private, cost-effective, and often faster resolution than traditional litigation. However, they require a willingness from both parties to negotiate in good faith. 

Legal and Financial Implications 

Contested divorces tend to be more costly due to the extended legal representation needed and possible court fees. Understanding the potential financial implications is important as they can impact both parties long after the divorce is finalized. It's also wise to understand your legal rights and obligations under California family law to make informed decisions throughout the process. 

Seeking Legal Advice 

If you're considering a contested divorce, seek legal advice early on. Our experienced team at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer is well-versed in California family law and can provide the informed guidance and robust representation needed to protect your interests and those of your family. 

With offices conveniently located in San Jose and Morgan Hill, we're committed to serving the diverse needs of our clients throughout Santa Clara County and beyond. 

At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we understand that every family law case is unique. Whether your divorce is unraveled by complex asset division or custody disputes, our goal remains the same: to help you reach the best possible outcome with as little stress as possible.  


Reach out to us today to discover how we can assist you through your contested divorce in California. Our team is ready to provide the objective, compassionate guidance you need to face this challenging process. We pride ourselves on our ability to combine empathy with precision in dealing with all contested divorce cases, ensuring your rights are asserted and your voice is heard.