Which is Better, Contested or Uncontested Divorce?

Wife and husband signing divorce documents or premarital agreementIf you are getting a divorce, you might be wondering whether you should insist on all your rights and slug it out in court or simply come to an agreement both you and your spouse can live with. The decision of whether to contest your divorce is a strategic one that can only be made after you’ve taken stock of your situation and evaluated what your position could be if you were to go to litigation.

An uncontested divorce is faster and cheaper

If your only concern is getting through this as quickly as you can, you almost certainly want to opt for an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce is like any other type of litigation: you have hearings over various motions, discovery requests and responses, and so on. All of that takes time, and a contested divorce can drag out for months or, in extreme cases, even years.

On the other hand, an uncontested divorce typically requires only a single court date. You’ll meet your spouse at the courthouse, appear in front of a judge, and verify that the papers represent the arrangement that you have both agreed on. Barring some unusual circumstances, the judge will sign the papers, and you’ll be on your way. In fact, in some states, if the divorce is uncontested, you may not even need to appear in court at all, especially if there are no minor children involved.

A contested divorce might be the better choice in the long run

In spite of all the benefits of an uncontested divorce, it may not be your best option if your spouse is demanding far more than he or she would otherwise get. If you have extensive assets, it may be worth your time and trouble to fight it out in court, especially if you live in a state where you are likely to get a favorable resolution. Nobody wants to spend $10,000 litigating a divorce, but if doing that ends up saving you $500,000, you can probably see how it would be worth it to litigate.

The decision as to whether to settle on an uncontested divorce or litigate it in court is one that you should only make after you have engaged in extensive research and are confident of your position. You should consult an experienced divorce attorney in your state to get a feel of your likely outcome in the event of litigation, and then make your decision with all the information available to you.

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