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What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?

Divorce proceedings can be complicated affairs due to the many details that need to be considered. Many decisions need to be made about the marital assets and any children of the marriage. The amount of time a divorce takes varies widely. In cases where both spouses work constructively together, the proceedings tend to be relatively quick and painless. But if the spouses are at odds, negotiations can be fierce and emotionally exhausting.

One of the reasons divorce experiences differ so much is because there are different kinds of divorces. Divorces can be sorted into two broad categories: contested versus uncontested.

The Initial Divorce Filing

Divorces must be approved by a judge. For the divorce agreement to be approved, the couple must go through a predetermined process. The exact paperwork and actions required vary slightly from state to state, so it’s important to get an attorney who understands local divorce law. For the most part, though, you can expect a divorce proceeding to follow the same basic steps.

The divorce must be initiated by one of the spouses. They’ll file documentation with the court making the request for a divorce. It’s important to file this document in whatever county you reside in. The documents will explain the reason behind the divorce.

A divorce proceeding is treated as a special type of lawsuit. Like other lawsuits, the divorce papers must be served to the other spouse. There is a legal process to the serving. Only a sheriff or process server can deliver the papers. They will usually be required to deliver them to the other spouse in person to ensure they get the paperwork.

After the receiving spouse gets the documents, they have a 30 day time period in which they can file their response. Their answer is what determines the type of divorce case you’re dealing with.

Issues in Divorce

With divorce, every couple needs to come to an agreement about their household issues. They need to divide debts and assets, determine child custody, and determine child and spousal support payments. The divorce process is the process by which the couple negotiates these details. In cases where the couple cannot come to an agreement, they will require a ruling from a judge.

Uncontested Divorces

An uncontested divorce is the simplest kind of divorce. It occurs when both spouses come to a constructive agreement about their assets, finances, and children. Court intervention isn’t a requirement because there’s no disagreement. If you can, you should try to come to an agreement with your spouse rather than bring the matter to court. It will help save you endless time and money.

Contested Divorces

Contested divorces are much more complicated than uncontested divorces. These divorces occur when the couple fails to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties. When no agreement is reached, the matter will be brought to court. A judge will set the final terms of the divorce. In most courts, a divorcing couple must go to mediation sessions before they set a court date. You may also need to provide proof that you’ve tried to reconcile your differences through counseling or other means.

With a mediation, both the spouses have a meeting with a mediator. Official mediators are court officers. The divorce lawyers for both sides should also be present. During the mediation, both sides will express what they want and make negotiations in an effort to reach a compromise. If mediation yields an agreement, there doesn’t need to be a trial or hearing.

Contested divorces can drag on for long periods of time, and they cost significantly more than uncontested divorces. The longer your court battle lasts, the more you’ll need to pay in both attorney and filing fees. You should do your best to reach some form of compromise. Court battles aren’t just bad for your finances; they’re also bad for your overall emotional health.

The Role of an Attorney

You don’t have to go through your divorce alone. In fact, you shouldn’t. Divorce lawyers exist to help negotiate ideal terms for their clients. Your divorce lawyer can take over the majority of the case. They’ll make sure all the proper paperwork is filed in an appropriate amount of time, explain your options, and make a negotiating plan. They’ll help you be sure that all laws and procedures are followed properly. In addition, having an attorney draft your agreement means that there’s less chance of loopholes and potential legal issues.

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