What Are the Differences Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce?


There are many aspects of divorce that can be challenging. Couples going through a divorce often disagree about how to distribute their shared property, what to do with debt, how to share time with their children, whether or not alimony or child support should be paid, and so on. These types of issues can often cause serious arguments not easily settled by the couple themselves. When it comes time to begin the divorce process, it’s important to understand what options are available to you.

While couples rarely agree on all terms of their divorce, how they work out those disagreements defines whether or not they will go through with a contested or uncontested divorce.

About Uncontested Divorce

Any couple who is able to resolve all disagreements about the most basic divorce issues may file for an uncontested divorce. These basic divorce issues include child custody, property division, and spousal support. Couples may choose to settle their decisions independently, with their respective lawyers, or through mediation. Uncontested divorces often include less paperwork and a more streamlined divorce process. However, it is crucial that both parties agree to all terms of the uncontested divorce. If one spouse should disagree and make the necessary court filings to stop the uncontested divorce, the couple will then be left to finish the divorce as a contested divorce.

About Contested Divorce

If a couple is unable to reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce, they will go through a contested divorce. A contested divorce will take the couple through traditional litigation, which will include court dates and legal help from a divorce attorneys. The court will consider the situations of both spouses, including their incomes, shared properties, separate assets, children, earning capacities, and several other factors. Unlike an uncontested divorce, the couple in a contested divorce will not decide the final outcome of their case but will entrust the judge with the final decision about all matters of child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.

Benefits and Disadvantages

An uncontested divorce allows each party to work through their options and come to an agreement that suits both sides. Unlike a contested divorce, where the judge makes all final decisions, an uncontested divorce leaves the power in the hands of the spouses. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement about basic divorce issues with your spouse, a contested divorce can give you the chance to obtain what you want in the divorce process. Also, those with complicated divorce issues are very unlikely to make all appropriate decisions regarding their split on their own, and litigation may be necessary to help sort out the necessary legalities.

On a practical level, an uncontested divorce also saves time and can cost significantly less in legal fees. This can also lead to far less stress and more privacy for both the spouses and their children. Contested divorces include litigation and court dates, which can become time-consuming and expensive. Plus, litigation often pins spouses against one another, inflaming arguments and making amenable splits very unlikely.

For help with your contested or uncontested divorce, contact Empire Law.

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