difference between contested and uncontested divorce

Contested Vs. Uncontested Divorce

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If thoughts of divorce run through your mind and you find yourself asking where to begin, one place to start is with assessing your situation. Do you expect a contested or uncontested divorce?

What are the differences between a contested and uncontested divorce?

Before you begin, it’s important to have an accurate picture of your case. We’ll break down the differences between a contested and uncontested divorce to answer some of the questions you may have.

Uncontested Divorce

Simply put, an uncontested divorce means that both spouses agree on all related issues. However, even if both spouses agree, you still must meet specific legal requirements.

An uncontested divorce is usually easier and quicker than the other option. The process bypasses much of the stress and many of the legal fees that come in less amicable divorces.

However, while the idea of an uncontested divorce sounds straightforward, complications do arise. Both spouses need to be on cordial terms throughout. It requires the ability to work together to reach mutually agreed-upon resolutions. That’s often easier said than done.

In an uncontested divorce, you still have to resolve all of the usual issues. You split all the marital assets and debts, settle on spousal support, and establish a custody plan and child support if you have kids.

As often happens, children complicate the process. In some instances, even if the parents agree upon a parenting plan, the court may take a closer look. They want to make sure the plan is fair, child support payments are adequate, and that it truly represents the child’s best interests.

An uncontested divorce doesn’t mean there’s no conflict. Ending a marriage still requires work and compromise on both sides. But when you and your spouse agree on most things and can work together to negotiate the rest, you may be able to sidestep a lengthy, expensive process.

Related Reading: The Divorce Decree: What You Need to Know

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is, as it sounds, a situation where spouses have substantial disagreements. While both contested and uncontested divorces should use the assistance of an attorney, contested divorce usually requires the services of an attorney to reach a final agreement.

A contested divorce is what comes to mind when most people think about divorce. They can get complicated and messy. Spouses are often on bad terms and there’s a great deal of conflict.

There are numerous steps to take before a contested divorce can be finalized:

    • The divorce petition must be prepared, filed, and served to the opposing party.
    • A response to the petition must be received.
    • All documents for discovery must be prepared and submitted.
    • Any pre-trial legal motions and hearings must be held.
    • Mediation must be held to assess if the divorce can be finalized outside of court.
    • If the mediation fails, the next step is to go to trial where a judge decides the terms and allocation of assets for the final divorce decree.

While not as common as you would think, if a divorce does end up going to trial, both spouses present their cases. This includes calling witnesses, cross-examinations, introducing evidence, and more. The whole process ends with a judge ruling on all the matters at hand.

With so much more to deal with, this often drags on for months or even years. It may be difficult and cost a great deal, both in terms of money and emotional investment. But it’s often also the only way to settle the division of property, custody, support payments, and other issues once and for all.

Related Reading: 7 Mediation Questions Answered

Speak with A Divorce Attorney

Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it’s still a good idea to consult a divorce attorney. No matter how amicable a split, things can go sideways in a hurry.

An experienced professional will advise you on the best course of action or look at an agreement to make sure it’s fair and in your best interests.

Related Reading: What is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
Related Reading: How to Divorce ASAP

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