Legal Guide

What’s the Difference Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce?

Getting a divorce can be one of the most difficult, stressful times in a person’s life. In many cases, your life will never be the same afterward. But it doesn’t have to be as stressful as possible, especially if both parties are civil and amicable towards one another. 

In this piece, we’ll break down the differences between a contested and uncontested divorce. Each of these has significantly different ramifications when separating. We’ll also discuss how an experienced divorce attorney in Denver can help you throughout the divorce process. You never want to go into a serious legal situation without the proper reinforcements on your behalf. 

According to the CDC, nearly half of all marriages still end in divorce (the marriage rate is 5.1 per 1000 total population and the divorce rate is 2.3 per 1000). But that doesn’t mean all divorces need to be nasty, difficult, and time-consuming. Keep reading to see the difference between uncontested and contested divorces. 

1. Uncontested Divorce 

An uncontested divorce is one where neither party is fighting the other about the terms, conditions, or nature of the divorce. In other words, both mutually and civilly agree to the divorce and have no outstanding issues about it. Therefore, they don’t need to go through an extensive legal process or trial. 

This also occurs if one party files for divorce and the other party simply doesn’t respond. This is called a default divorce, where the other party doesn’t answer the summons and therefore doesn’t dispute it. 

This is the most ideal type of divorce, as it makes the process way less time-consuming, expensive, and stressful for everyone involved, including the children. If a couple can be civil in their separation, chances are both parties will get what they want and be able to move on with their lives easier. If a couple has assets to split, such as their house and belongings, or if they want to split and calculate annuity income, an uncontested divorce is the path of least resistance. 

2. Contested Divorce 

The opposite of an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce means one or both parties can’t agree on the terms of a divorce, and it must be worked out legally. This makes divorce much more complicated, not to mention expensive, time-consuming, stressful, and more tense. 

In this situation, both parties will hire divorce attorneys to represent them in court and fight for what they believe they should receive in the divorce. Evidence and negotiations occur for an extended period of time—usually months. Then several court appearances are held. Eventually, there will be a trial, which could stretch from days to weeks. The longer the divorce takes to finalize, the more expensive the process. You need to pay for legal fees, and often pay much more than the average divorce, which costs between $15,000 to $20,000. 

According to Forbes, some common reasons for a contested divorce may include: 

  • Division of marital assets 
  • Spousal support 
  • Child custody and support 
  • Prenuptial agreements 
  • Grounds for divorce 
  • And more 

It all depends on how cooperative the two spouses can be with one another and if they can work out issues internally versus through a legal battle. 

Benefits of a Contested Divorce

Some benefits of choosing a contested divorce might include the following: 

  1. To get what is rightfully yours in the process: Stubborn spouses might try and stop you from receiving your fair share of the divorce. If this can’t be worked out internally, a legal battle may be necessary to achieve your divorce goals.

  2. To secure custody or child support: A spouse may refuse to pay child support or split custody if they aren’t legally forced to do so. If you think you deserve more custody or child support from your divorce, a legal battle may be necessary.

  3. To do what’s best for yourself or your children: In particularly difficult circumstances, such as an abusive spouse, you may need to secure your safety through a legal process. This can help prevent the other spouse from having custody, seeing you or your children, or causing further damage to your family unit.

Benefits of An Uncontested Divorce 

Some benefits of choosing an uncontested divorce might include the following: 

  1. To save you time and money: Contested divorces, as explained above, are much longer and more expensive than uncontested divorces. To end the process sooner, agreeing in-house could save you lots of time, money, and trouble.

  2. To maintain privacy: A contested divorce could be a long, drawn-out process that could draw unwanted eyes to a personal situation. If you can avoid going to court and hash out your differences with each other, you’ll be able to keep the entire process under wraps from start to finish.

  3. To cause less stress on the family: Ending a marriage is hard enough for you, your partner, and your children. Being able to have a civil separation without pointing fingers or going to court will cause much less strain on the family, and help you move on with your life. 

Conclusion - How Can A Divorce Attorney Help? 

Whether you’re exploring a contested or uncontested divorce, an experienced family law attorney will be able to answer any questions for you, help you decide the best course of action, and even represent you in court on your behalf if necessary. 

They can also serve as a mediator and unbiased third party for the divorcing couple, using their insights to provide legal counsel and potentially move the divorce in a positive, more painless direction. But if you do need to go to court, they go in armed with years of experience and expertise to help you attain your divorce goals. 

If you’re considering a divorce, or even sure it’s going to happen, it’s recommended to seek a family law attorney as soon as possible. They can help you lay out your goals, prepare yourself for the process, and act as a shoulder to lean on in a difficult time. 

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