Close up of man fist. Scared injured woman face on background.

Although it’s difficult to predict in advance whether a divorce will be amicable or contested, a few warning signs can help divorcing spouses understand what they might be facing. For the unprepared, a contested divorce can result in financial loss, inequitable distribution of assets, and loss of child custody rights.

Signs a Divorce May be Contested

Of the two million or so marriages in the United States each year, about fifty percent will end in divorce. Some will involve serious disagreements over the terms of the divorce settlement. This is called a contested divorce.

There are signs that a divorce is likely to be contested. When these signs appear during the separation process, it may be wise to prepare for the worst to protect marital property and custody rights.

Financial Surprise Tactics

When one spouse removes cash from bank accounts and makes it difficult for the other spouse to access marital assets prior to the final divorce settlement, that person may be planning to contest the divorce. Even though the assets may be restored in the final agreement, this financial surprise is frequently a sign of the intent to contest the divorce.

Emotional Outbursts

Emotion during divorce proceedings is understandable, but an overly emotional response to the discussion of the separation terms my indiciate a contested divorce is in the future. A spouse exhibiting the following emotional behaviors may be contesting the divorce:

  • Does not want to divorce
  • Fights every aspect of the proceedings
  • Wants to make the other spouse suffer
  • Makes unreasonable demands

No Compromise

All fair divorce agreements require compromise. When spouses refuse to compromise on any terms of the divorce agreement, and will not negotiate, they are, by default, contesting the divorce.

Spouse Has a History of Abuse

Abusive personalities tend to be unreasonable. A spouse who has a history of abuse, whether physical, emotional, or financial, is more likely to harass the other spouse and contest the divorce arrangement.

Hires an Aggressive Attorney

Some divorce lawyers have a reputation for aggressive tactics in divorce cases. If a spouse hires such an attorney the chances are good he or she is planning to contest the divorce.

Be Prepared

When the signs of a contested divorce are present, it is critical to get prepared, adjust expectations, and respond appropriately to the disputed issues.