As if divorce is not complicated enough, legal jargon can make it even more confusing. You may have heard of the terms uncontested and contested divorce but are not sure of what they mean and how they apply to you. Understanding the difference between the two can help you determine which approach is best for your situation.
This decision is important because it can save you precious time and money. You do not want to drag out your divorce any longer than necessary or spend more than you have to.
Contrary to how it may sound, an uncontested divorce is not one in which you simply both agree to divorce. That is the first step but not the most important one. An uncontested divorce entails you and your spouse agreeing on every aspect of your divorce, from child custody to property division to spousal support. If you have an amicable and cooperative relationship with your soon-to-be ex, then this may work for you. If you are unsure you will agree on everything but can still work together, you can try mediation instead.
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement concerning one or more terms of the divorce. However, it does not necessarily mean that you two are hostile and have to battle in court. You can try mediation or negotiation. Litigation may be necessary, but it can be free of the drama and intense emotions so often found in high-conflict divorces. With the right attorney, you can stay out of court as much as possible to speed up the process and bring down the legal fees.
Which to choose
Avoid being quick to judge which approach to take. Just because you still care about each other may not mean you will have the same desires for your divorce. Talk first to discover your options. If you suspect any dishonesty or suffer from abuse, a contested divorce may be the best choice. If you have few assets and/or no children, an uncontested divorce may be possible.