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What Is the Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Family Law

Everyone enters into a marriage hoping that it will last forever. However, this isn’t always the case. Almost half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

The fact that divorce is so common doesn’t ease the pain. The best friendships have been ruined following a nasty divorce. The pain, anger, and frustration of the process can bring out the worst in anyone. However, not all types of divorce are the same. They fall into two main categories: contested and uncontested.

What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?

If the divorce is said to be uncontested, both parties agree to it. They do not have any disagreements regarding the matter. The divorcing spouses agree on the reason for the failure of the marriage. They also agree on ancillary matters like:

  • The children’s living arrangements
  • Division of their matrimonial property
  • Spousal or child support

In a contested divorce, the parties are in disagreement. They may disagree on any issues regarding the divorce. Even though contested and uncontested divorce definitions sound pretty simple, they are very different legal procedures.

Noticeable Differences

  • Location of the Hearing

If the divorce is uncontested, both parties receive a hearing date. However, they don’t need to attend a hearing. The court will issue the Interim Judgement if everything is in order.

If, however, it is a contested divorce, the parties need to appear in court. Since they cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, the court will serve as a medium. The parties may need to bring in witnesses and relevant evidence.

If the court is satisfied that the marriage is irredeemably broken, they can start adjudicating on ancillary matters. The final Ancillary Matters Hearing is heard in chambers.

  • Simplicity

An uncontested divorce is simpler and cheaper than a contested divorce. This is mainly because it takes less work and has fewer processes to complete. All a lawyer needs to do is help in the processes of drafting and filing appropriate court documents. Once all the papers are in order, the lawyer and divorcing parties don’t even need to go to court.

A contested divorce involves many processes, so it can be lengthy. There is some negotiation to be done, and lawyers need to attend court to represent the spouses. Both the defendant and plaintiff have a lot of paperwork to handle.

  • Freedom

In an uncontested divorce, the parties have a say on how they’ll live their lives after the divorce. They have the opportunity to agree on all matters regarding the divorce. This includes dividing their marital assets, the quantum of spouse or children support, and the kids’ living arrangements. In contested divorce cases, however, all this is left in the hands of the court.

If you are going through a divorce, consider seeking the help of a Tacoma family law attorney. A good lawyer can make the divorce process easier for you.

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