Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces

At the heart of every divorce are four issues:

1. Division of community and/or marital property
2. Division of debt
3. Custody of any children
4. Payment of child and/or spousal support

While no divorce is truly "uncontested" in the sense that there are no disagreements, these disputes do not always have to be resolved in court. That's what we mean by an uncontested divorce - one where the spouses can reach a decision as to the terms of the divorce without going to trial. Uncontested divorces move more quickly through the courts and are less expensive than contested divorces.

Every couple seeking a divorce should first attempt to work out mutual terms for the separation without going to court. If the spouses cannot resolve disputes on their own, many people utilize arbitration and mediation, with or without attorney representation. This saves time and money by bypassing the lengthy litigation and trial process. An uncontested divorce typically reduces hostility, allowing both parties to resume their lives more quickly.

Complex issues, high financial stakes and technical legal procedures are the marks of contested divorces. While an uncontested divorce can often be performed without an attorney, litigation often makes experienced counsel necessary for a contested divorce. If one spouse is represented by an attorney or there are difficult financial issues, seeking an attorney may be wise.

  • Introduction to the Divorce Process
    LegalZoom's education center provides you with the resources you need to consider a divorce. You'll find general divorce information in our Education Center, and our FAQs answer common divorce questions. Access to the Glossary and Useful Resources gives you a variety of tools to make...
    read more
  • Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces
    At the heart of every divorce are four issues: 1. Division of community and/or marital property2. Division of debt3. Custody of any children4. Payment of child and/or spousal support
    read more
  • Legal Requirements for Divorce
    Under most state laws, a divorce (or "dissolution") action must be filed and decided in court. All states have a "no-fault divorce" policy. In other words, the courts are not concerned with which spouse was guilty of marital misconduct. The following legal requirements are necessary to...
    read more
  • The Divorce Process
    A divorce starts with a divorce petition. The petition is written by one spouse (the petitioner) and served on the other spouse. The petition is then filed in a state court in the county where one of the spouses resides. It does not matter where the marriage occurred. The petition includes...
    read more
  • Custody of Minor Children in a Divorce
    Both parents must decide on the custody of minor children under the age of 18. Divorce courts are concerned about the well-being of any children born naturally or adopted by the parents. There are four basic types of child custody recognized under state laws:
    read more
  • Child Support in a Divorce
    Child support is mandatory in any divorce involving minor children. Petitioners with minor children must include an order for child support, even if the other parent is unemployed or cannot be found. Most state laws have guidelines to determine child support payments. The payment amount...
    read more