When you begin the divorce process in California, one of the first questions you must answer is: Will your divorce be contested or uncontested?
While it might seem that the answer is obvious, it’s not always simple and easy to arrive at the answer that’s right for you and your circumstances.
Part of deciding which type of divorce is right for you is to first understand the terms, so we’ll briefly go over what “contested” and “uncontested” mean.
Here’s what the two terms mean
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on to resolve all issues in divorce, including child custody and child support, as well as the division of property and debt, and spousal support.
In a contested divorce, spouses can’t agree on one or more of those issues (or some other divorce matter) and their divorce goes to Sonoma County family court, where a judge will hear both sides and then decide for them.
Advantages of an uncontested divorce
There are a couple of significant benefits to filing for an uncontested divorce: it typically takes less time than a contested divorce and it saves you money.
Because there are fewer court proceedings and less legal maneuvering in an uncontested divorce, court costs and attorney bills are lower.
Though divorce inherently involves some conflict, there are fewer opportunities in an uncontested divorce for serious disputes to surface. After all, both sides have agreed on how to resolve divorce issues, so there are fewer requests for information and fewer proceedings, so conflict is kept to a minimum.
Another advantage: because there is less private information filed with the court, uncontested divorces are less public, whereas in a contested divorce, there can be publicly available disclosures involving allegations of infidelity, financial problems, poor parenting, addiction, domestic violence and more.
Disadvantages of an uncontested divorce
Sometimes the complexity of property division issues involving business interests, investments, real estate or pensions are ill-suited for the simplicity of uncontested divorce.
There might also be disagreements over the finer points of child custody matters such as the parenting plan or child support that would be best resolved in court in a contested divorce.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both contested and uncontested divorce. To determine which one is right for you, do some more research and then talk over the pros and cons with a trusted friend or family member.