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What’s the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?

Your spouse says that your emotional affair with another person online is the cause of your divorce, while you say that your spouse’s controlling nature caused the rift. You wanted to try to work things out through counseling, but your spouse wouldn’t even consider it.

Does that mean that you’re having a “contested” divorce? Not at all. While these are certainly big issues that may never really be resolved, a contested divorce usually speaks to disagreements about the practical concerns of divorce — not the emotional.

You and your spouse may never agree who really caused the divorce or whether the marriage could have been saved with a little more effort. However, you can still have an uncontested divorce as long as you can find a way to agree on things like:

  • How your liquid assets and debts will be divided
  • How other assets, like real property and cars, will be split
  • Who will stay in the marital home and who will move out
  • How much support (either spousal or child) will be paid
  • How personal household items will be split
  • What custody, visitation and parenting plan will be standard

While that seems like a pretty simple list, there are often a lot of small issues that have to be negotiated. For example, if your spouse keeps the family car, must they refinance the vehicle into their own name right away? What happens if they can’t? Those are the kinds of issues that may take extended negotiation even if you ultimately are aiming for an uncontested divorce.

If you’re ready for a divorce, find out more about how the process works and what you should do to prepare for the coming period.