What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce (also known as “agreed divorce”) occurs when both parties agree to be divorced and agree to all matters related to the divorce, such as asset distribution, debt division, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation schedule, etc.
The major difference between uncontested and contested divorce cases is the amount of time required for each case. Uncontested cases can be filed and finalized within SIXTY-ONE (61) days. Whereas, contested divorces can easily take over SIX (6) months to complete.
A contested divorce generally requires additional steps that are generally not required with uncontested divorces, such as:
- Parenting Classes – If there are children involved, the court will generally require that both parties attend a court-approved parenting class. These court ordered classes teach parents essential communication skills to ensure effective co-parenting after the divorce.
- Mediation – Before the scheduled hearing, the court will require that both parties speak with a certified mediator. Each party and their respective attorneys will meet with a disinterested 3rd party mediator. The mediator’s job is help the parties come to a mutual agreement.
- Discovery – Before the trial, both parties can obtain evidence from the other party. The purpose of discovery is to allow both parties equal access to information. There are various tools that attorneys can use during the discovery process, such as mandatory disclosures, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, subpoena of documents, and depositions.
- Trial – If the parties do not agree to settle the case during mediation, the family judge will schedule a divorce trial. During the divorce trial, both parties can present evidence and call witnesses.
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