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The Process of Contested Divorce

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Divorce

Divorce can be a painful and challenging experience for anyone. However, when the divorce becomes contested, it adds a layer of complexity and can exacerbate the emotional burden. A contested divorce means one or both parties don’t agree on fundamental issues.

If you are considering a contested divorce in Hawaii, it’s essential to understand the legal process involved. This blog aims to give you an overview of the contested divorce process and provide insights into the extra hurdles involved.

What Is Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is one where both parties cannot agree on issues such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. This means the divorce proceedings may need to proceed through litigation, making the process more complicated and lengthy.

What Is The Process of a Contested Divorce?

Filing for Divorce

The first step in a contested divorce is usually filing a petition for a dissolution of marriage. You’ll have to file this petition in Hawaii, in the county where you or your spouse lives.

The petition for a contested divorce must include reasons why you’re seeking a divorce and a list of your demands in different areas, such as:

Responding to the Petition

After filing the petition, the other party is served with the papers, and they are given a set amount of time to respond, typically 20 days. When the other party answers, they usually have an opportunity to challenge any of the petitioner’s allegations and demands. They can also file counter-petitions demanding their privileges, including custody, property, and support.

Discovery Process

Discovery is where both parties try to identify each other’s demands, expectations, and any hidden assets or debts. They do this through exchanging documentation, written questions, or depositions. The discovery stage can be contentious and used to build cases for both sides.


If both parties agree on critical issues, they can enter mediation to avoid trial. It is common to decide on child or spousal support, for example. However, there are cases where mediation is unsuccessful, and trial becomes the only viable option.


At trial, the two parties present their cases to a judge, who then makes rulings on unresolved contested issues. A trial will consume more time, money, and emotion than an uncontested divorce.

After the hearing, the judge will grant the divorce, finalize the separation, and order the trial regarding any disputes.

Make Sure You Are Prepared for The Process

Divorce is already emotionally and financially draining, so you must have a strong support system, whether friends or family. The legal process can never fully resolve the emotional trauma of a divorce, but it can be a necessary step in creating a new beginning.

A contested divorce can be a time-consuming and arduous process in Hawaii. Finding a skilled attorney to manage the case and protect your rights is always important. Contact our divorce lawyers at Coates Frey & Hackett, AAL LLLC today! 808-524-4854