The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

In a divorce, there are many decisions to be made. Essential concerns like child custody, child support, spousal support, and who gets to keep the house and car are often the top concerns for couples who have decided to call it quits. However, there’s one decision that goes on to inform all of the others: whether to get a contested or uncontested divorce.

A contested divorce is one where the couple does not agree on their preferred outcome for the major decisions. The ultimate ruling on those decisions is made by a court. An uncontested divorce is one where the couple agrees on the major decisions at play in a divorce. While the court is still involved, the majority of the process does not involve them directly.

The process for a contested divorce typically involves both sides having their own attorney. If an agreed resolution cannot be decided between the two parties, the case proceeds to a family court. In court, a Judge will hear both sides argue their positions and make an ultimate ruling. The spouses do not have any direct control over the ultimate resolution because it is left up to the Judge to decide and order the solution to the dispute. When you think of a “typical divorce” from TV and film – people screaming at each other in a courtroom – that’s a contested divorce. (Although, there’s usually not actually any screaming at each other in real life.)

The process for an uncontested divorce also typically involves each spouse hiring their own attorney, but it gives more control to the couple involved. A majority of uncontested divorces are solved through negotiated settlement or mediation. Often, the spouses and their attorneys can have settlement negotiations going back and forth several times to ultimately reach an agreement that both spouses are satisfied with. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator listens to both sides argue their positions and tries to steer them towards a decision. Unlike a Judge, a mediator will not make an ultimate ruling that must be followed – just facilitate the couple in making their own decisions.

If the couple does manage to solve most of their issues whether by settlement negotiations or in mediation, they will both sign an agreement listing their decisions. The attorneys submit the agreement to the court, who review it and decide whether to sign it into law or not. Most often, the decisions a couple make in an uncontested divorce are respected in court.

The major advantages to getting an uncontested divorce are how much cheaper and quicker the process is. Instead of spending weeks, or months, or sometimes even years, in court, you could have the bulk of the hardest part done in a day. Plus, you get to help decide it for yourself! Obviously, it takes two to successfully opt for an uncontested divorce. If your spouse is unwilling to give it a go, you may be resigned to court.

No matter how you go about your divorce, KL Family Law believes in helping families move forward with compassion and integrity. Depending on your unique circumstances, that could be a contested or uncontested divorce. For help either way, contact KL Family Law today! We can help you find unique family law solutions that put children first.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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