What is the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce?

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Divorce terminology can be complicated. Two terms thrown around often are ‘contested’ and ‘uncontested,’ but what do they mean?

An Uncontested Divorce v. A Contested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is resolved between you and your spouse, usually best accomplished with the help of your lawyer.. On the other hand, a contested divorce is resolved by a judge because the two parties cannot come to an agreement on their own. Issues in both types of divorce include custody, child support, and other issues related to children; dividing assets and property; and allocating debts and maintenance, among other things. If you and your spouse can discuss these issues and come to an agreement on your own, then they can be included in the divorce agreement drawn up by your lawyer and don’t need to be decided by the court. If you can’t, a judge will become directly involved.

Some cases begin as uncontested and turn into contested cases, and vice versa. Often, a couple thinks they can reach a resolution but then emotions, arguments, unfair division of assets, differing expectations on childcare, and any number of things can get in the way and the case moves to court. In others, cases start as contested when a divorce begins and emotions are high, but the couple eventually reaches an uncontested settlement. Either way, having your lawyer advise and guide you through the negotiating process will serve in your best interests.

Strive for an uncontested divorce

In some cases, a contested divorce stays contested and results in a 22 trial, where a judge will make decisions on all unresolved issues. This is a last-resort scenario. In general, divorcing couples and the lawyer you hire should work toward resolution as near as possible to an uncontested divorce as these cases are less stressful and less expensive. They also leave the decisions up to you, whereas in a contested divorce a judge will make decisions for you and certain terms in the final agreement are then out of your hands.

Most divorces, even those rife with emotion and disagreements, can ultimately result in uncontested agreement and eventually be resolved through a negotiated settlement prior to submitting the divorce agreement for execution. An experienced family lawyer can help you navigate the divorce settlement process, so you and your ex-spouse can work toward an uncontested divorce in the least stressful way possible. At Schiffman Family Law, Mike Schiffman has focused his entire law career, more than three decades of experience, working toward uncontested divorce cases whenever that option represents the best interests of his clients. Mike Schiffman will work personally on every case, so you can rest assured you’re getting the best service possible. Schedule a free one-hour consultation with Mike Schiffman today.