Contested V. Uncontested Divorces: Which Should I Choose?

By Rebecca Winters
Rebecca Winters Law

One of the most common questions I hear is, what is the difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce. When I first meet with potential clients ready to begin the divorce process, the first question I ask is whether they and their spouse have agreed to all terms, or whether they still need to decide some aspects of their separation.

Some couples often choose to separate amicably and agree on all aspects of their separation. This is a typical uncontested divorce and is usually a much quicker process than a contested divorce. A couple can choose an uncontested divorce whether they have little to separate or even if they have child custody to decide and property to divide. This process is best used by parties who can come to an agreement on every part of their separation and division of assets and debts. During the uncontested divorce process, the parties have often already discussed what their post-divorce life will look like. They have decided who will keep the home, how they will divide debts and assets, and even how visitation with their minor children. Usually, an uncontested divorce keeps you out of the courtroom. A lot of couples believe that they will be unable to agree, however, with some attorney guidance there is usually a good chance in most cases that the couple is closer to an agreement than they believed, and they can actually come to an agreement and avoid costly litigation.

A contested divorce action is one where the couple does not see eye to eye on the division of assets and debts, nor the child custody arrangement. This is usually the most complicated and expensive types of divorce, and they may last many months or years. A contested divorce means you need the assistance of a third party, a judge, to decide what happens with your assets, debts, money and even your child. This type of divorce is the most lengthy and costly.

Another option for couples who do not want to go through the lengthy contested divorce process but who aren’t completely agreeable on all aspects of their separation is to attempt the mediation process. A mediator is a trained third party who does not represent either party, however, they remain neutral and try to advise both parties of their options and what they can probably expect based on their situation.

Whichever course a couple chooses to take, couples need to remember that each situation is different with unique circumstances. It is important to remember that each case will not have the same outcome, as every situation is different, lawyers are different, and judges are different. You should to speak with an attorney to help you successfully navigate the process in a way that is best for you and your situation.

(Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give legal advice and is for general knowledge purposes only. No representation is being made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services to be performed by other attorneys.)

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