Difference between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

difference between contested and uncontested divorce
Many people mistakenly think that an uncontested divorce is a divorce that is unchallenged throughout.

Divorce is a topic that most people do not enjoy discussing, but should you find yourself in a marriage that appears broken, there are some important things you must understand to make it through the process. One of the most common questions asked is, what exactly is the difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce? Couples can choose two routes when the decision has been made to get a divorce:

  • Contested Divorce
  • Uncontested Divorce

Many people mistakenly think that an uncontested divorce is a divorce that is unchallenged throughout, but that is far from the truth. Even the most amicable divorces will have a few points debated and negotiated at some point. It is the process by which the differences are worked out that truly makes a divorce contested or uncontested.

Here is a brief overview of both types of divorce so you can better understand them and also gain an understanding what you may be facing in the near future.

Contested Divorce

Couples that cannot agree on various points during the divorce process may have no choice but to take the divorce to court and allow the judge to make the final decision on issues such as child custody, debt allocation, alimony, spousal support, asset distribution, and child support. Cases such as this are rarely settled quickly and can result in massive legal bills for each party. In addition, in some cases, at least one party is upset with the final verdict handed down by the judge. The judge will decide every contested issue after either a hearing, or in the end, a trial. A divorce that ends in trial is typically one that is drawn out over a year or two at least. The alternative…

Uncontested Divorce

This divorce is much simpler and significantly less costly than a contested divorce. For the most part, both parties will agree on the main decision that must be made regarding asset allocation, child custody, child support, etc. For the points they do not agree on, they can seek the help of a mediator to settle, or even having their own attorneys negotiate outside of court in a more amicable and friendly manner. Even couples that are parting on bad terms can use this method to keep their legal costs down.

Mediation as a Route to Uncontested Divorce Resolution

For some couples, the mere site of each other is enough to set off another argument. In cases such as this, hiring a divorce attorney specializing in mediation can help the proceedings along much quicker. It is important to know if your attorney has a history of confrontation during divorce or if he or she has always been able to reach an agreement in his or her cases.

One area where uncontested divorces can hit a snag is concerning child support and/or child custody. As parents, it is important to realize what is most beneficial to the children, not necessarily you or your spouse, especially if you want the divorce to end amicably. Try not to use the children as a bargaining chip and honestly evaluate what is and what is not in the best interests of the child.

For instance, trying to block your spouse from seeing the children is a sure fire way to bring the amicable proceedings to a halt. If you do not want to interact with your spouse, try to work out arrangements where your interaction is kept to a minimum and use message boards or emails to communicate. This is a much better alternative than running up tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills simply because you cannot get along.

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