Understanding the Difference Between Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
By Saunders Law Group on April 18, 2017
If you are considering ending your marriage, you may have questions about contested vs. uncontested divorce. Both will effectively and legally end a marriage, but there are some key differences. At Saunders Law Group in Bartow, FL, our divorce attorneys can help you understand the difference between the two and guide you through the divorce process, whether it is contested or uncontested.
Contested vs. uncontested divorces have nothing to do with whether one party wants a divorce and the other does not. Instead, they deal with whether the parties agree or disagree on the major issues that must be resolved during the divorce process.
In contested divorces, the spouses disagree on some or all of the terms of the divorce. These terms may include:
- Division of marital property
- Alimony (or spousal support)
- Child custody (if applicable)
- Child support (if applicable)
Contested divorces do not always require going to court to settle these matters, however. In many cases, couples work through mediation and eventually come to an agreement. Court is always an option if either party is unwilling to compromise on any of the above terms.
There are a lot of downsides to a contested divorce. One of the biggest consequences is that they take much more time than an uncontested divorce. Proceedings can last months or even years if the parties must go to court. Another downside is the costs that can accumulate over the course of a contested divorce. Parties involved in a contested divorce can expect their legal fees and court costs to range between a couple and several thousand dollars or more.
Perhaps the greatest downside to a contested divorce that goes to court is the lack of control each party has over the outcomes. Once the case goes to court, the decisions are in a judge’s hands. A judge makes all the decisions regarding alimony and child support, property division, and custody, which can leave one or both parties at a significant loss.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties have agreed on all the terms of the divorce in advance. This means both parties have already decided how they want to divide their marital property and who will receive alimony, if it is needed at all. Parents must also agree upon child custody arrangements and child support payments. If both parties can agree on all of these terms up front, then the divorce process becomes simple and straightforward.
After the paperwork is filed, a judge must simply review and approve the terms therein. Unlike a contested divorce, which can take months or even years, uncontested divorces can be completed in a matter of weeks. It is by far the most cost effective way to dissolve a marriage, costing thousands of dollars less than a contested divorce.
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