Divorce is by definition the legal dissolution of a marriage. There are two types of divorce proceedings: uncontested and contested. Many misconceptions surround what constitutes a contested divorce versus an uncontested divorce. The fact that two people agree to divorce does not mean a divorce is uncontested. Likewise, a “contested” divorce does not necessarily mean a bitter dispute, nor does it have to mean that a drawn out trial between two spouses will ensue.
A divorce is uncontested when the parties have not only agreed to divorce, they have also reached a full settlement of all terms of their divorce prior to or at the time they file their divorce paperwork with the courts. The marital settlement agreement will address any or all of the following issues which are applicable – property division, child custody, visitation, child support, alimony and attorney’s fees. In most uncontested divorces, one spouse waives his or her right to be served. If the parties are able to agree on all issues prior to divorcing, an uncontested divorce is preferable because it is quicker (usually takes anywhere from 31 to 60 days to complete), and is also significantly less expensive. In fact, most if not all uncontested divorces are done on a fixed fee basis.
A contested divorce occurs when the parties are unwilling or unable to agree on some or all of the issues which must be resolved, including child custody and support, visitation, property and debt division, alimony and attorney’s fees. Every one of these issues requires in-depth knowledge of the law and the practicalities which apply. At times, a contested divorce can result in a trial (usually before a judge, but sometimes before a jury), but the overwhelming majority of divorces are settled prior to trial. The law which applies to the myriad of issues in divorce is not only complex and complicated, it changes all the time. Because divorce is one of life’s most stressful events, your better judgment can be impacted while you are going through such a difficult situation. At times like these, it is critical to have a skilled, experienced attorney to guide you through the divorce process.
Lisa Sowers has extensive experience, both with uncontested divorces, and with settling, mediating, and trying contested divorces. Lisa recognizes both the emotional pain and financial impact of divorce. Keeping this in mind, she provides her clients with the objective and insightful guidance they need to achieve the best possible outcome for their individual situation.