An uncontested divorce means both parties have resolved all outstanding issues, and the only thing left for the divorce to be final is for a judge to make it so. Sometimes a couple getting a divorce agree to the divorce terms on their own, and other times they use a mediator. No matter how the couple comes to an agreement, however, it is considered an uncontested divorce and all issues are resolved without going to court.
A contested divorce, on the other hand, refers to a divorce in which at least one issue is unresolved. This can happen at any time in the divorce proceedings, and you need to be aware of the implications and what to expect if your divorce changes from uncontested to contested.
Why You Might Want to Change an Uncontested Divorce to a Contested Divorce
There are a variety of reasons that an uncontested divorce may change to a contested divorce. Emotions may run high, and one spouse could move to a contested divorce simply out of spite. More often, however, as the divorce unfolds, one or both parties realize they don’t agree on every issue.
The biggest issues are child support, child custody, alimony, and property division. Perhaps at the start of the divorce, you and your spouse agree you will split property and child custody 50/50. But then, as you begin to hash out the details, your agreements become less feasible and realistic. Without in-depth knowledge of child custody laws, you may initially make decisions that simply won’t work.
Sometimes one spouse is being treated unfairly, and if you feel you are this spouse, you may choose to move to a contested divorce. In addition, one spouse may realize he or she is actually entitled to more under the law than has originally been agreed upon. In this case as well, a contested divorce will often become necessary.
The Downfalls of a Contested Divorce
A contested divorce is more difficult than an uncontested divorce. The additional court hearings and meetings make the process take longer and cost more. In addition, a contested divorce can cause a great deal of stress to you and your spouse. It is always best to try and resolve issues without going to court, but that of course isn’t always possible for every couple nor is it the right decision for every couple.
What You Can Expect in a Contested Divorce
A contested divorce will take more time and involve more details. Here are some things to be aware of during the process.
- If you receive a countersuit, you’ll need to file a reply.
- You’ll then begin the process of collecting and examining evidence from the other side.
- You’ll need to appear in court to litigate temporary or preliminary issues (things such as child custody or child support during the divorce and possession of the former marital residence during the divorce).
- Depending on your state, you may need to attend mandatory mediation sessions.
- Plan to go to trial. However, remember a trial leaves the possibility of a judge ruling against you. You still have the option to settle before you go to trial. While you may have to give up something, you won’t risk a negative decree from the judge.
- You can also pursue a bifurcated divorce, in which you end the marriage, but continue to resolve issues like alimony and child support.
Find the Right Legal Counsel
If you decide to keep your divorce uncontested, you still don’t have to go through the process on your own. You can still hire a divorce lawyer to review your marital settlement agreement and help in mediation.
Regardless of your decision, make sure you speak with a trusted attorney who can advise you on the safest and most beneficial route. Ben Carrasco is an experienced family law attorney in the Austin, TX area who will help you get what you deserve – whether you choose a contested or uncontested divorce.
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Ben Carrasco is an experienced, dedicated divorce attorney who will fight to win your legal case. Call Ben today at (512) 489-9820 or request a consultation online.