Divorce is a challenging and often emotionally fraught process, with contested divorces representing a significant portion of these legal proceedings. Contested divorces occur when spouses cannot reach an agreement on key issues such as asset division, child custody, and support payments. Understanding the common causes of contested divorces can shed light on the challenges couples face in their relationships.

Lack Of Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and its absence is a prevalent factor contributing to contested divorces. When communication breaks down between spouses, misunderstandings, resentment, and unresolved conflicts can quickly escalate. Issues that could have been addressed through open and honest dialogue instead fester and create irreparable damage to the relationship. Whether it’s a failure to express needs and concerns or an inability to actively listen and empathize, poor communication can erode trust and intimacy, leading couples down the path to divorce court.

Financial Disputes

Money matters are often cited as one of the leading causes of marital discord and contested divorces. Disagreements over finances can range from differing spending habits to conflicting financial priorities. Arguments over budgeting, debt management, and long-term financial goals can strain even the strongest marriages. Financial stressors such as job loss, debt accumulation, or unequal earning power can exacerbate tensions and lead to marital breakdown. When couples cannot find common ground on financial matters, it often results in contentious divorce proceedings.


Infidelity is a deeply painful betrayal that can rupture the trust and intimacy within a marriage. Whether it’s a one-time indiscretion or a sustained extramarital affair, infidelity often leads to irreconcilable differences between spouses. An experienced San Diego divorce attorney has seen many cases in which the overwhelming emotional trauma inflicted by infidelity makes it difficult for couples to rebuild their relationship. Even attempts at reconciliation may be fraught with distrust and resentment, ultimately culminating in a contested divorce as the only viable option for moving forward.

Conflicting Priorities

Couples enter into marriage with their own individual goals, values, and aspirations. However, when these priorities diverge significantly, it can strain the relationship and lead to conflicts. Whether it’s career ambitions, lifestyle choices, or personal values, conflicting priorities can create tension and resentment between spouses. When couples cannot find common ground or compromise on these issues, it can drive a wedge between them, ultimately resulting in a contested divorce.

Substance Abuse & Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction can wreak havoc on a marriage, undermining trust, stability, and emotional well-being. Whether it’s alcoholism, drug addiction, or other forms of substance abuse, addiction issues often lead to marital breakdown. The impact of addiction on behavior, finances, and family dynamics can be devastating, pushing couples to the brink of divorce. Even with efforts at rehabilitation and recovery, the damage inflicted by substance abuse may be irreparable, leading to contested divorces.

Domestic Violence & Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse represent serious and often dangerous issues within a marriage. Physical, emotional, or psychological abuse creates an unsafe environment for spouses and any children involved. Victims of abuse may feel trapped and powerless, fearing for their safety if they attempt to leave the relationship. Contested divorces in cases of domestic violence often involve legal battles for protection orders, custody arrangements, and financial support. It’s crucial for victims to seek support and assistance from trusted resources to ensure their safety and well-being.

Parenting & Custody Disputes

Disagreements over parenting styles, child-rearing responsibilities, and custody arrangements are common triggers for contested divorces. Both spouses may have different ideas about what’s best for their children, leading to ongoing conflicts and disputes. Child custody battles can be emotionally draining and legally complex, with both parents vying for custody rights and visitation privileges. While the focus should be on the best interests of the children, disputes over parenting and custody can prolong divorce proceedings and lead to contentious legal battles.

In conclusion, contested divorces arise from a variety of complex and deeply personal issues within a marriage. From breakdowns in communication to financial disputes, infidelity, and domestic abuse, the reasons for contested divorces are as diverse as the couples themselves. By understanding these common factors, couples can better navigate the challenges of marriage and work towards building healthier, more fulfilling relationships. However, in cases where divorce is inevitable, seeking support from qualified legal and mental health professionals is essential to navigating the process with dignity and resilience.