Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

What is the difference between a “contested divorce” and an “uncontested divorce?” Simply put, a “contested divorce” refers to when a couple disagrees on some issue concerning a divorce. The parties, through their lawyers, present evidence to a Family Court Judge who makes the ultimate determination on the issue in accordance with State law or, in the case of child custody, in the best interest of the child or children. An “uncontested divorce” when the couple are able to completely resolve all their own issues without a single disagreement. In order for this to happen, the spouse must be able to agree on the division of assets, custody of children, visitation schedules, child support payments and alimony. When this occurs the husband and wife put the agreement in writing. A hearing before a Family Court Judge is still required for the approval of the agreement and issuance of a final divorce decree, however, the Court’s Order will be the adoption of the parties’ agreement. This means that the spouses can control the outcome of their case without the worry and expense of a contested hearing. The vast majority of cases start off as contested divorces, but usually end up settling. This is most often done through the mediation process where a neutral third party helps the spouses reach their own resolutions to their issues. It is for this reason alone that the mediation process is so valuable and it is critical to obtain the services of a skilled mediator to help the parties avoid unnecessary conflict.

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