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Contested Divorce Lawyer in Pittsburgh

Are you ending your marriage and experiencing an extremely challenging and stressful situation?

Divorce can be incredibly traumatic, especially when you disagree with your partner on multiple issues in your marriage. It tries your patience, tests your endurance, and can break you down emotionally and psychologically.

At Very Law, we have extensive experience handling contested divorce cases throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Our contested divorce lawyer in Pittsburgh can assist you with your divorce while safeguarding your best interests. Call us to schedule a consultation and discuss your family situation with us.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce occurs when both spouses disagree about their future arrangement after the marriage ends. It includes disagreement over key issues, like:

Child Custody

Spouses may disagree with each other about the living arrangement of their child or children.

Pennsylvania laws categorize custody into two types:

Physical custody refers to where the child will reside, while legal custody provides decision-making power to parents over matters affecting the child's upbringing. It includes decisions about a child's healthcare, education, and religious upbringing.

Pittsburgh courts issue custody orders that prioritize the best interests of the child. 

As joint custody orders favor the child's well-being, Pittsburgh courts usually issue joint custody orders. It allows both parents to spend time with the child and mutually decide crucial upbringing matters for their child.

However, this may not always be the case. Before issuing custody, they consider certain factors, such as:

  • The child's relationship with the parent
  • Parent's ability to provide an environment that protects child better interests
  • Any history of abuse or neglect

Child Support

The spouses cannot decide who will be responsible and to what extent to take care of the child's expenses after the divorce.

Pittsburgh courts follow child support guidelines to determine each parent's financial obligation to support their child. They consider certain factors, including:

  • Income of both parents
  • Number of children
  • Special needs of children

If one parent doesn't earn, the court considers their capacity to earn. In summary, the judge sees how they can take care of the needs of a child and protect their best interest. They may even order a non-working parent with earning capacity to find employment and contribute to child support. 

Division of Property and Other Assets

Both spouses may have differing opinions on how to divide their properties and other assets, such as 

  • Vehicles
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Furniture
  • Investments
  • Business
  • Other personal belongings

Pittsburgh courts follow equitable distribution principles to divide marital property. As a result, each spouse receives a fair share. There is no fixed percentage of what each spouse will receive after division, but each will receive what is fair and just to them.

Pittsburgh courts consider several factors to make fair property division, including

  • Marriage length
  • Each party's contribution to the acquisition and dissipation of marital properties
  • Each party's health, age, and earning capacity of income
  • Source of income
  • Parties' standard of living during the marriage
  • Opportunity for each party to acquire assets and income

However, if a prenuptial agreement exists, the court will consider it and most likely divide the property according to it.

Alimony or Spousal Support

In some marriages, one spouse might have sacrificed their career to support the family. 

Previously, they both could have decided that one would take care of the family and the other would financially support them. When they separate, it creates an economic imbalance for one spouse. As a result, they likely need financial support from the other. 

However, the other spouse may not agree to support the needy one as they have a conflict now.

Pennsylvania law categorizes alimony into two types:

  • Pendente lite alimony 
  • Post-divorce alimony

Pendente Lite Alimony

Pendente lite alimony is temporary and grants financial support during the divorce process. This is so the other spouse can participate in divorce proceedings and maintain the standard of living.

Post Divorce Alimony

As the name suggests, it financially supports other spouses after the divorce. The duration of post-divorce alimony depends on the situation of spouses. If a spouse cannot work or has some disability, the court may award the alimony for their lifetime.

In summary, it is unfair to leave another spouse financially struggling just because they made different choices, sacrificed their career, and decided to take care of the family. 

Thus, the court tries to maintain the living standards of both spouses as it was during the marriage.

How Contested Divorce Is Different From Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all the key issues in their marriage mentioned above. They usually file a divorce petition together, unlike a contested divorce.

What Are Your Options to Resolve a Contested Divorce in Pittsburgh?

There are various options available to resolve contesting issues with your partner. The most suitable one for you depends on your level of conflict with your spouse.

Collaborative Divorce

One option to resolve contested issues with your partner is through collaborative divorce.

As the name suggests, in collaborative divorce, both spouses work together to resolve their issues and reach a fair agreement. It's effective in many contested divorces, and both spouses are able to resolve their differences because it includes:

  • Both parties' attorneys. They protect their party's best interests and ensure the other party doesn't take any undue advantage of their party during the process.
  • Financial experts. They assist with the financial aspect of divorce: division of properties, assets, and other debts.
  • Other experts if necessary. It includes child custody evaluators or therapists to support the well-being of children and emotional support for the couples.

Negotiation Before Trial

Most of the contested divorces in Pittsburgh are resolved at the negotiation stage before going to trial.

The reason is spouses have gone through the discovery process and exchanged information with each other. They are familiar with each other's positions, evidence, and prospective outcomes of their case. They understand what they fairly deserve.

It enables both parties to participate in meaningful negotiations and achieve a fair settlement.


If all else fails, the last resort is to file a certificate of trial readiness and proceed with the trial.

In the trial, the hearing officer will consider the evidence and hear the arguments of the respective attorneys of both parties. The hearing officer will decide all the contesting issues between the spouses based on evidence and arguments.

The trial is an expensive and arduous process. Attorneys work intensively to prepare your case and present strong arguments to protect your best interests. You can expect your attorney to work closely with you and take your significant time.

Responding to Being Served With Divorce Papers

Did your spouse serve you with divorce papers? If so, don't hesitate to contact us right away. Our experienced Pittsburgh divorce lawyer can help you file your reply that serves your best interests.

Pennsylvania law provides you 20 days to respond to your divorce papers and file your reply. If you fail to file your response and contest the issues, the law will likely provide you an additional 20 days.

However, if you still do not respond, the court will proceed with the divorce and may issue a final decision, considering you don't contest the issues. As a result, you have to abide by the ruling and won't be able to contend the divorce later.

Why Choose Very Law for Your Contested Divorce in Pittsburgh

Very Law understands how challenging and emotionally draining a contested divorce can be for a whole family. You have to simultaneously deal with mental and financial stress and navigate the complex legal process. Therefore, unlike any other firm, we believe in providing you with as much support as possible. So you can focus on moving on with your life.

If you decide to pursue your contested divorce journey with us, you can expect an experienced divorce attorney to go to battle for you. At our firm, we prioritize accessibility and responsiveness to ensure your peace of mind throughout the legal process. From providing timely reminders for meetings or court dates to minimizing your direct involvement in legal procedures, we strive to alleviate the burden on your shoulders. Our commitment extends beyond mere representation; we aim to empower you to focus on self-care and well-being, knowing that your legal matters are being handled with diligence and expertise. With us by your side, you can navigate challenges confidently, knowing that your concerns are being addressed and your interests are being safeguarded.

Apart from this, Our experienced divorce trial attorneys can aggressively represent you in negotiation and trial to protect your best interests. They focus on family law and have handled hundreds of divorce cases successfully.

Listen to what Pittsburgh residents have to say about Very Law:

"The Very Law office and their associates were very professional and took care of my needs in a timely manner. They kept in touch with me the whole time and I was never in the dark. I highly recommend these very professional and caring lawyers for all your needs. Thank you - George McCreight"

Call us at 412-430-0131 today to discuss your case with our Pittsburgh contested divorce attorney. They can protect your best interests while helping you navigate the complex legal process with as little stress as possible.

Don't wait until it's too late. You have a limited time to respond to your partner's divorce petition and protect your rights.

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