Contested Divorce in Raleigh, NC

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse are having difficulty coming to terms concerning the various issues that must be decided to end your marriage, the divorce attorneys of Charles R. Ullman & Associates can help. We can protect your rights and interests as you proceed with a contested divorce in North Carolina.

Because North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, a contested divorce can move forward even if one spouse objects. However, a contested divorce is more complex and takes longer to complete than an uncontested divorce. It is also more emotionally stressful in most cases.

It is crucial to have an experienced divorce attorney working to protect your interests in a contested divorce. When representing you in divorce negotiations, our objective is to help you make well-founded decisions for yourself and your children and make sure you are treated fairly in the division of marital assets. We will work to lower the temperature in negotiations and put a stop to improper or punitive acts by your spouse and/or their legal team.

The attorneys of Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh, N.C., focus solely on family law. We have the experience you can depend on to guide you through a contested divorce. We’ll ensure you have the information you need to make the best decisions for your future.

What Is a Contested Divorce in North Carolina?

A contested divorce is not necessarily an all-out battle between estranged spouses. Contested simply means there is disagreement over one or more issues that must be resolved as part of getting a divorce.

When the parties to a divorce cannot agree, each party has the right to present the family law court with their demands and evidence as to why their demands should be met. The judge presiding over their divorce must hear each side’s case and issue an order with the requirements of the couple’s divorce decree.

In a properly handled uncontested divorce, the judge need only review the separation agreement to ensure it is fair and equitable and approve it as the core of the final divorce order.

The issues most often contested in a divorce are:

In some cases, it is proper to contest the terms of a divorce. For example, if your spouse was hiding assets to avoid paying alimony, you would be right to present evidence of this improper action to the court. If your spouse was overly restrictive without cause about the time they want to allow you to spend with your children, you would certainly want to fight for your parental rights.

Even in a divorce acknowledged as contentious, our attorneys would seek to continue negotiations up to the start of a divorce trial. Our objective in any contested divorce is to reach an agreement with as little strife as possible to avoid the time, expense, and emotional impact of a court proceeding.

However, Charles Ullman is an experienced trial attorney. He is certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Specialist in Family Law, a distinction held by only a small percentage of attorneys. He has earned a reputation as one of North Carolina’s most respected, experienced, and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys.

Filing for a Contested Divorce in North Carolina

A divorce in North Carolina requires that the couple has separated – lived apart – for 12 months and that one spouse is a resident of the state. It is preferable but not required to settle the terms of divorce – the division of assets, child custody, and support – before asking a judge to declare the marriage over. This can be done during the year of separation.

An attorney at Charles Ullman & Associates can help you start the divorce process by helping you file a Complaint for Divorce and have your spouse served with divorce papers. We also can help you file a counterclaim to your spouse’s Complaint for Divorce stating your disagreements and your desires for child custody, spousal support, and distribution of marital assets.

If necessary, we could ask the court to issue a temporary order to establish child support and/or spousal support pending a negotiated or litigated separation agreement and divorce.

Once your spouse has had a chance to answer your complaint or you’ve answered their complaint, we could start filing motions to obtain information and evidence from your spouse and/or others about the issues under discussion. Through the discovery process, both sides would seek evidence that may be used to support their position in divorce negotiations or a court trial.

Either side might submit written questions to be answered, obtain sworn deposition testimony or ask the court to issue subpoenas for documents, such as bank statements, to be used as guidance in the division of marital assets.

Once discovery has been completed, many divorce cases go to mediation. If you appear in court without a completed separation agreement, the judge can order you to mediation to settle any unresolved issues.

In mediation, you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys meet with a registered mediator who acts as an impartial third party to facilitate discussions. The mediator tries to guide the  discussion toward a resolution but does not impose a decision. Mediation settlements, if signed by all parties, can lead to binding agreements, which may be presented to a judge to become a separation agreement or part of one.

Arbitration is another alternative dispute resolution process available to divorcing spouses who cannot agree on terms. A specially trained arbitrator hears from both spouses and their respective attorneys and then makes a decision. The parties are expected to abide by the decision, although an arbitration agreement may be appealed in some cases. Many couples have found that agreeing to be bound by an arbitration decision is a time- and cost-saving alternative to a courtroom trial when mediation has failed.

As mediation or arbitration proceeds, we will continue to be open to negotiations and potential agreement on each issue, as per your instructions and stated goals.

If your contested divorce case must go to trial, we will prepare documents and verbal arguments to substantiate your case and argue your position in court. We will seek a divorce decree that protects your best interests and provides you with a stable financial future.

Contested Divorce and Absent or Abusive Spouses

If your spouse cannot be located to be served with divorce papers or has abused you, we can ask the court to grant an order known as divorce from bed and board. This is a court-ordered legal separation. It does not end the marriage, but it allows the spouse who sought this legal separation certain rights that allow them to move on.

Because a divorce from bed and board is used in cases of spousal abuse, you do not need a year of separation to seek its protection. A spouse who has been abandoned, abused, or suffered some other injury (such as adultery) may seek certain benefits of a divorce, including alimony, distribution of marital assets, child custody, child support, and attorney’s fees. A divorce from bed and board may be used to have a spouse ordered out of the marital home.

After a year of living apart under a divorce from bed and board, you may petition the court for a final order of absolute divorce. The petition would ask that the legal separation order be incorporated as part of the divorce decree. The other spouse would have the right to contest the divorce petition and present evidence that contradicts the assertions of the injured spouse’s divorce petition. As your attorneys, we would do everything possible to rebut or mitigate the impact of your spouse’s petition.

Meet With Our Raleigh Contested Divorce Lawyers

Regardless of your relationship with your spouse, you must resolve such complex issues as asset division, spousal support, child custody, and child support during a divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree, a judge will make the decisions for you. If you have the assistance of an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney, you can identify points of disagreement, seek to negotiate from a position of strength, and avoid decisions that prove costly down the road.

At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, our mission is to keep you fully informed of your options and protect your best interests as you proceed with a contested divorce. We will protect your rights and finances and work to ensure your divorce agreement is not a barrier to a future relationship with your children.

If your divorce is going to be contentious, call us today or complete our online form to schedule a consultation with an N.C. State Bar-certified Family Law Specialist at our Raleigh office. Our lawyers and legal staff serve clients throughout Raleigh, Cary, and surrounding areas in Wake County.


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.