Sometimes, when a new client comes through our door, one of the first questions we hear is, “Will my divorce be contested or uncontested?”
Typically, people who seek legal representation because they want a divorce will do a little homework before hand.
They will ask around, talk to friends about their experiences, and usually spend some time on-line researching the ins and outs of the divorce process.
The most common misconception regarding contested versus uncontested is that a divorce is contested when one person doesn’t want to get divorced. Following that logic, people believe an uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree that they want to be divorced.
It’s important to dispel this notion because it can emotionally hamper one (or both) of the parties.
An uncontested divorce is where the parties agreed to all the terms of the division of property (both personal and real), child custody and visitation (if there are minor children) and the allocation of marital debt (who’s going to be financially responsible for various debts).
Alternatively, a contested divorce occurs (usually involving a trial) when the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the essential issues of the dissolution of the marriage.
While many people find that in the beginning they’re able to agree on who’s going to pay off the credit card(s) or who will have residential custody of their children, things typically become a bit more muddled as the process unfolds. A good divorce attorney will help you realize that while you haven’t resolved all the issues overnight, negotiation is possible, resolution is ideal and going to trial (both expensive and emotionally draining) isn’t the only option on the table.