A contested divorce occurs when one or both spouses can’t agree on all issues, or if one spouse does not want to go through with the divorce. The most common issues that tend to be divisive are: child custody and support, alimony, and division of assets. When both parties are unable to reach an agreement, they may seek resolution from the court.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce simply implies that both spouses agree to the divorce and all issues relating to its finalization, including child custody and support, alimony, and asset division. Uncontested divorce is less expensive, less time consuming, and generally less stressful, especially since a court hearing may be unnecessary.
Who is Eligible for Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce is usually an option for couples who can mutually agree on divorcing one another, as well as the issues surrounding the divorce. Usually, one spouse will initiate uncontested divorce paperwork, and if the other spouse is in agreement, they can submit it to the court. Other types of divorce may also be available to the couple, such as summary dissolution.
What are Some of the Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is usually advantageous over a contested divorce, in that:
- The process is streamlined: Since the parties are in agreement, there will be less paperwork and less time spent in the whole process, and court hearings are not always necessary.
- Less information for the public: Since there is less paperwork, less information is published in county records.
- Less potential for error: Unless an issue arises, the likelihood of either party making an error decreases since there is a significantly smaller amount of paperwork involved. Less paperwork also means less back-and-forth correspondence.
Generally, uncontested divorce is preferable in most situations. In others however, it may be unsuitable, and court proceedings are necessary. Situations such as:
- Limited availability: Not all jurisdictions offer uncontested divorce proceedings. Check your state’s divorce laws to find out if you are eligible, and if it is allowed.
- Limited dispute resolution: In complex divorce cases, such as property disputes or criminal matters, the divorce will likely progress to court.
What If a Dispute Arises During an Uncontested Divorce?
Sometimes, an issue arises in an uncontested divorce that may require the court’s intervention. For instance, one spouse was concealing assets, or one spouse decides he or she no longer wants the divorce. If this occurs, speak to your lawyer immediately, as court proceedings may be necessary.
What are Some Tips to Follow If I’m Considering Contesting a Divorce?
If you are thinking of contesting your divorce, take the following into consideration:
- Make full disclosures: Do not hide or conceal assets. The court takes this seriously, and you may be liable for hiding assets, and held in contempt of court. Also, be honest, especially with figures and business accounts.
- Put your child’s best interests first: Divorce can take its toll on everyone, especially children. Keep their well-being at the forefront.
- Consult an attorney: Your lawyer will provide guidance, and will represent your best interests in court.
What Types of Legal Issues are Commonly Contested in a Divorce?
Divorce typically involves several legal issues, and usually, the longer the couple has been together, the more complex of a case. The following are commonly contested issues:
- Division of Assets
- Child support
- Child custody and visitation
- Business issues
- Property improvements made by one spouse
What If I Have a Serious Dispute Over a Legal Issue?
If you take issue with something while contesting your divorce, take note of the issue, speak with your attorney, and be sure to collect all documentation related to your dispute.
How are Contested Divorce Issues Resolved?
In order to resolve a divorce case, the court takes into consideration the following:
- The length of time the couple was together
- Whether or not children are involved
- Each spouse’s individual relationship with the children
- Quantity of accumulated assets and property
- Whether or not the couple shared joint business endeavors
What If My Spouse Won’t Sign the Papers?
If your spouse refuses to sign the paperwork, you may still obtain a valid divorce through a default judgment. Your attorney can help you decide your best course of action in dealing with an uncooperative spouse.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Contesting a divorce is typically much more difficult than an uncontested divorce case. A less than cooperative relationship with your spouse can be emotionally challenging on you as well as your children. An experienced divorce lawyer can provide you with guidance on your case, and work diligently to protect your best interests in court.