Examples of Issues in Contested Divorce

The decision to get a divorce is never easy, but when disputes and disagreements arise during the settlement process, things get even more difficult. If you’re considering a divorce and think it may be contested, it's important to be aware of some common issues that could come up.

What is contested divorce?

A contested divorce case is one where spouses cannot agree on at least one major issue, such as child custody, division of property, or alimony. This type of divorce can be stressful and expensive, as it often requires the assistance of a mediator or lawyer to help create the terms of the divorce. In some cases, a contested divorce may even go to trial. 

Common issues in a contested divorce

Property division

Who will get the family home? How will savings accounts and retirement accounts be divided? All property acquired during marriage is usually considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution in divorce. This means the property will be divided between spouses in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your marital assets, a judge will decide for you after considering factors such as each spouse's income, earning potential, and contribution to the marriage. Most people don’t want a judge to intervene, which is why they take steps like mediation to work things out before entering a courtroom.

Recommended webinar: Turn a Breakup into a Win-Win with Mediation


Debt acquired during marriage is generally considered marital debt and, in divorce, must be divided between spouses. This includes credit card debt, mortgage debt, student loan debt, and any other debts incurred during marriage. 

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your debt, a judge will decide for you after considering all relevant factors such as each spouse's income, ability to pay the debt, and contribution to incurring the debt. Again, most people prefer this not to happen, which is why mediation is such a powerful divorce tool.

Spousal support

Spousal support, known as alimony in some states, can become a contested issue, especially in longer marriages. Spousal support paid by one spouse to another after, and sometimes during, divorce proceedings. 

Spousal support can be temporary or permanent. It may be awarded based on need or on a number of other factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse's income and earning potential, and whether one spouse stayed home to care for the kids while the other worked outside the home.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on whether spousal support should be paid or how much should be paid, a judge will make the decision for you after considering all relevant factors. 

Child custody and support

Divorcing parents often disagree about which parent should have primary custody of the kids and how much financial support the non-custodial parent should pay. These disagreements can result in expensive and time-consuming litigation. To avoid this, it's important to try to reach an agreement with your spouse on these issues before going to court. If you're unable to do so, a judge will make the decision for you based on what they believe are the best interests of the child. 

A moderately contested divorce occurs when a couple agrees on some, but not all, issues related to ending their marriage. Moderate contests are typically less acrimonious than those where the parties disagree on everything, as they have already been able to come to an agreement on some level. 

How to avoid a contested divorce

The best way to avoid a contested divorce is to try to reach an agreement with your spouse on all relevant issues outside of divorce court. If you are able to do this, you can file for an uncontested divorce, which requires less time, stress, and money.

Sometimes, legal advice is needed before you can get to the point of an uncontested divorce. Hello Divorce is here to help. We offer flat-rate mediation sessions and legal advice sessions via Zoom or phone, which you may find helpful. You can use these services to help you and your spouse reach a settlement agreement you both appreciate. 

We also offer online divorce plans for people who want help with any aspect of their divorce.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services and free resources, you can schedule a free 15-minute phone call with one of our account coordinators.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.