Primary differences between uncontested and contested divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2023 | Divorce |

People often fear the thought of divorce, assuming that it will be painful, embarrassing and expensive. Divorce certainly has the potential to be a very disruptive personal experience. However, the benefits of moving forward with this process benefit millions of people in profound ways.

Some of them opt for uncontested proceedings, while others undergo a contested divorce filing. The behavior of the spouses during the divorce can have an impact on what the process is like for the family.

What are the main differences between contested and uncontested divorce?

The first and most important difference between uncontested and contested divorce is what the courts have to handle on behalf of the spouses. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses have already agreed to property division, support and custody terms. Rather than needing time to present evidence to a judge, their family simply requires judicial review and the finalization of the divorce paperwork.

Contested divorces, on the other hand, involve spouses who simply do not agree about what should happen with their property or their children. In contested or litigated divorces, a judge has to apply both custody rules and community property law to resolve disagreements.

Given that they require extensive court review, contested divorces often take much longer to complete. The additional demand on the courts also means that a contested divorce will typically be more expensive. It also has the potential to be far more stressful, as the spouses won’t know what to expect and will have to speak in court, possibly on more than one occasion.

Which approach is right for a family?

Many families would benefit from uncontested divorce filings if the spouses can find a way to cooperate with one another. Having lawyers negotiate with one another or attending mediation, possibly even in separate rooms, can be a way for couples to resolve their disagreements and move forward with an uncontested filing.

In many scenarios where the basis of the dispute is emotional, seeking an uncontested divorce can be a good option. Still, when there have been major misconduct issues, like the dissipation of marital property or the abuse of the children in the household, litigation may be necessary to ensure the protection of vulnerable people or an appropriate outcome in a contentious divorce.

Those who can compromise with their spouses can keep much of their divorce process out of the courts, but others may be able to rely on the courts to support them when marital issues could lead to safety concerns or financial losses. Learning more about California divorce proceedings can help those who are contemplating divorce and are in need of some clarity and guidance.