Do I Need an Attorney for a Contested Divorce?

Katelyn Morgan

Contested Divorce is an emotionally and mentally taxing journey for everyone. Issues like property and debt division, spousal support, and child custody can become contentious during a divorce, adding another layer of complexity to an already difficult situation.

If your divorce is contentious, a court will decide the outcome of any disagreements.

Getting through a contested divorce involves knowledge of intricate legal procedures. You must provide all required documents, follow all rules of process and proof, and present a convincing argument.

You are in a very precarious position if you try to handle this without the assistance of an attorney. Here are some of the most important reasons why you should get a lawyer for a contentious divorce.

You Need Expertise in Family Law

Divorce, child custody, alimony, child support, and the division of assets are just few of the many issues that fall under the broad umbrella of family law. Family law attorneys are versed in the specifics of the divorce laws and court procedures in their jurisdictions.

They have extensive experience with contentious divorces and can effectively argue your case. A lawyer is there to help you through every step of the process, including:

  • Representing divorcing couples in court and receiving legal advice. Your rights will be safeguarded from the get-go.
  • Taking charge of the investigative process. To help you win your case, they send your spouse detailed document and information requests.
  • Taking testimony through depositions. Expert legal counsel can ask the right questions to uncover relevant evidence.
  • Taking care of all correspondence with your spouse’s lawyer. This eliminates the potential for confusion or misinformation.
  • Requirements for filing motions. Experienced family law attorneys know which pretrial motions have the most chance of being granted.
  • Reaching reasonable agreements through mediation. They use leverage to bargain for more favorable conditions.
  • Working through the legal system. A lawyer is responsible for handling evidence, presenting witnesses, making compelling arguments, and raising objections.

To win a contested divorce case without this level of experience is next to impossible.

You Need an Objective Perspective

You and your ex-spouse will experience a roller coaster of feelings, bewilderment, and new financial and relationship dynamics as you go through a divorce.

Personal involvement in a case makes it difficult to think clearly and devise effective legal tactics.

An attorney is a level-headed, objective third party. They take into account both the law and the specifics of your case when making recommendations.

Some key benefits of an attorney’s objectivity include:

  • Putting aside sentiments in order to figure out what you can do better based on the facts.
  • Offering honest appraisals of potential dangers rather than sugarcoating them.
  • Keeping you from making concessions that aren’t in your best interests or making demands that could backfire because they’re too unreasonable.
  • Providing sound counsel on when to fight and when to give up on a problem.
  • Adapting tactics in light of legal considerations rather than personal biases.

Without this kind of impartial representation from a lawyer, it’s hard to make the right decisions throughout a contentious divorce.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

Hiring a divorce attorney allows you to take advantage of their expertise in settlement negotiations in the hopes of avoiding a trial.

Skilled family lawyers can work with the other side’s lawyer to secure the most favorable agreement feasible. Key advantages that can result from your lawyer’s skillful negotiation are:

  • If your spouse has aggressive lawyers, this can help you both feel more equal.
  • Finding novel approaches to solving contentious problems.
  • Making the opposing side see the merit in giving in to your demands.
  • Using incentives and penalties to structure bids wisely.
  • Having a plan B in place for when your first offer is declined.
  • Knowing when the other side is about to give up and taking advantage of the situation.
  • Refusing to give in to requests that aren’t realistic.

If your case does get to trial, your attorney can help you negotiate a settlement that reduces the complexity of the underlying issues.

You Need Aggressive Courtroom Advocacy

A trial will be held for your contentious divorce if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement. Attorneys typically spend several years in court learning the ropes and gaining experience before a judge. An attorney can use this knowledge to effectively represent you in court by doing things like:

  • Writing compelling introductions and summaries.
  • Interrogating your partner and their witnesses with precision.
  • Strategic evidence presentation with the goal of changing the judge’s mind.
  • Raising proper objections at the right time to damaging testimony or proof.
  • supporting your arguments with evidence from credible sources, such as economists or child psychologists.
  • Using precedents from court decisions to back up your claim.
  • Keeping your attention on what really matters instead of getting distracted by minor details.
  • Changing strategy on the fly in response to the presenting of facts and witness.

You would be at a severe disadvantage if you tried to navigate the complexities of the courtroom on your own. You can suffer emotionally and monetarily for years thereafter.

You May Save Money in the Long Run

Fearing they won’t be able to afford the retainer and consultation expenses, several people put off hiring a divorce attorney. In contrast, the financial risk of going without competent legal assistance in the face of potentially detrimental judgements is far higher. Hiring legal counsel can be cost-effective because:

  • They shorten the time it takes to get to a settlement or trial by reducing the complexity of the case.
  • Their knowledge allows them to cut down on time-consuming motions and other procedural errors.
  • You can save the time and expense of going to trial and instead reach an inexpensive settlement with their help.
  • Skilled representation in court ensures you pay less alimony and receive your just share of property.
  • They ensure that the tax consequences of the final agreements are minimized.

In a contested divorce, having legal assistance can typically result in a much more favorable financial outcome than going it alone.

You Want Things Handled Correctly

Your family, assets, and finances will all be altered in significant ways after a divorce. There’s a lot at stake, so it’s important to make sure everything goes smoothly. A lawyer guarantees:

  • The proper court documents are filed.
  • No fines result from missing deadlines.
  • Settlement agreements and court decrees provide complete protection.
  • All aspects of a person’s financial situation, including their earnings, assets, liabilities, and outgoings, are laid bare.
  • Relevant matters such as taxes, insurance, and beneficiary designations are dealt with.
  • The final judgment is in accordance with all applicable laws.

When one person attempts to handle all of these moving parts, details get overlooked and steps are skipped. It may cause confusion and issues in carrying out the agreement. A lawyer substantially lessens exposure to such hazards.

Find an Attorney You Trust

While going through a contested divorce is never easy, having an experienced family law attorney on your side can make the process go more smoothly and increase your chances of a positive outcome.

Find a lawyer with vast experience, exceptional bargaining skills, and demonstrated courtroom strengths by reading reviews on websites like Avvo and getting recommendations from people you trust. Get together with potential hires to establish rapport and open lines of communication.

Finding the appropriate divorce attorney will give you a sense of control and renewed hope. When you have a qualified lawyer on your side, you can put your mind at ease. Despite the upfront cost, most people find that hiring an attorney is well worth it in the end.


  1. Nolo – Contested vs Uncontested Divorce:
  2. New York Courts – Contested Divorce:
  3. Massachusetts Legal Resources – Contested Divorces:
  4. Virginia State Bar – Tips on Hiring a Lawyer:
  5. ABA Journal – 5 Strategies for Negotiating a Divorce Settlement:
  6. Nolo – Divorce Trial: Presenting Evidence and Questioning Witnesses:
  7. Forbes – How Much Will My Divorce Attorney Really Cost?:
  8. – 12 Ways a Divorce Lawyer Can Save You Money:

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Katelyn Morgan is an experienced divorce attorney. She understands family law and helps couples get divorced with minimal stress and dispute. Katelyn Morgan has won high-asset and difficult property division divorce cases. She fights hard for her clients and gets the greatest results. Katelyn Morgan speaks at divorce and family law events in addition to her professional business.