Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce

Laura E. Shapiro -

Couples have many decisions to make during a divorce. Whether you and your spouse agree on issues will determine whether it is a contested divorce or uncontested divorce.

Couples have a contested divorce when there are disputes over any issues that need to be resolved before the divorce is finalized.

In an uncontested divorce, the soon-to-be-ex spouses have resolved or are able to resolve their issues and are ready for a judge to sign off on their proposed settlement.

Let’s take a look at what is involved in each type of divorce.

Decision between contested and uncontested divorce

Contested Divorce

A couple can have disputes over a wide range of issues, such as:

  • Who gets the house?
  • Who gets which car?
  • How will we divide our bank accounts?
  • How will we split our debts?
  • How much child support will each spouse have to pay?
  • How much time will the children spend with each parent? Is custody an issue?

Generally, the more complicated the property division, the longer it may take to settle a divorce.

To make the process go as smoothly as possible—given the circumstances—couples in a contested divorce would likely benefit from hiring a lawyer.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Because contested divorces are more complicated and contentious than uncontested divorces, lawyers can help their clients:

  • Focus on the importance of resolving issues and determining those that require litigation;
  • Realize the potential consequences of certain actions they may want to take against their spouse;
  • Zero in on doing what is in the best interests of their children;
  • Understand the legal procedures for divorce.

If you and your spouse have a contentious relationship, your lawyer can speak on your behalf with your spouse’s lawyer. This avoids you having to communicate with your spouse—unless you choose to do this on your own.

You May Want to Consider Mediation

Courts require couples to attend mediation. With mediation, a couple has the opportunity to resolve issues by agreement with the help of a neutral third party called a “mediator.”

You do not need a lawyer for mediation, but we recommend you have your lawyer attend.

If you are considering mediation in a contested divorce, Shapiro Family Law offers mediation services. To learn more about the benefits of mediation, call 303-695-0200.

Going to Trial

In a contested divorce, there are times when even lawyers cannot help couples resolve issues and reach a settlement.

Couples may decide to go to trial on certain issues, such as child custody, finances, and property division, and permit the judge to resolve the issues in your divorce.

Unfortunately, sometimes each person’s emotional or personal problems are exposed during trial. It is not uncommon for one spouse to testify about substance abuse use, mental health issues, and other issues. 

Preparation for trial is time-consuming for both parties. For instance, attorneys often must contact and work with expert witnesses, such as an appraiser who can testify about the value of the couple’s marital home and other properties.

If either couple does not like the outcome of the trial, that spouse has a right to appeal, which further prolongs the divorce process.

Trials are not necessary in an uncontested divorce because the spouses have already resolved their disputes—sometimes even before filing divorce papers.

Uncontested Divorce

If there was such a thing as an “easy divorce,” an uncontested divorce would be it. In fact, you and your spouse may not have to appear in court if you agree on all issues, including a parenting plan for your minor children.

The process can go even quicker if you and your spouse do not have minor children, and do not have marital property or debts to divide.

However, if you have property or debts to divide, and have minor children, you may should have a lawyer review your agreement to make sure that you are getting a fair settlement.

Keep in mind that even though you and your spouse have settled your issues, the judge presiding over your divorce may have concerns about your settlement.

If so, the judge may schedule a hearing for you and your spouse to appear in court to answer questions.

Shapiro Family Law Can Help You With Your Divorce

If you are not sure whether to get an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce, a Denver divorce lawyer at Shapiro Family Law can answer any questions you have about these types of divorce. Call us today: 303-695-0200.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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