There’s no question that divorce is a life-altering event, but does it have to be a battle?
The trajectory of your divorce may be defined largely by whether you and your spouse choose to go through a contested or uncontested process.
What’s the difference?
Essentially, a contested divorce is one that has to be litigated while an uncontested divorce is not. In an uncontested divorce, couples work together to come to mutual agreements about everything from the division of the marital debts and assets to how child custody will be divided (if necessary). Then, they merely ask for the court’s approval. When a couple is at an impasse over one or more major issues, that means the divorce is “contested,” and requires court intervention.
Is one better than the other?
An uncontested divorce offers a lot of benefits for most couples. Generally speaking, the process of an uncontested divorce is faster, simpler and less expensive than the contested route. It’s also a private process, and it gives couples greater flexibility and control over their individual futures.
For parents, the process of negotiating their split can help them reframe their relationship and begin the transition to co-parenting, and the fact that it’s a cooperative process tends to minimize the emotional stress of the split on the whole family (including the kids).
In comparison, a contested divorce is adversarial. That can make the process more emotionally distressing, longer to get through and more expensive. However, some couples simply cannot work together well enough to go the uncontested route. This is particularly true when there’s a power imbalance in the relationship for some reason or one spouse is simply determined to “hang on” to the marriage at all costs and won’t commit to any reasonable agreement. Contested divorces also sometimes happen when there are particularly complex marital assets that have to be divided and there are disputes around their valuation or ownership.
Which method is right for you? That’s something that you may need to consider carefully in consultation with a legal professional. Just as your marriage was unique, so your divorce process will be.