And Why It Matters
Whether or not your divorce is contested sets the entire stage for your divorce. It can determine the length, cost, emotional investment, and difficulty of your divorce. This article will help you understand the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce and help to explain why this difference matters and how it can impact your proceedings.
An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on all of the elements of their divorce. There are no disagreements on things such as property division, responsibility of the payment of marital debts, child support, child custody, and spousal support. What this means is that the majority of decisions are made outside of the courtroom and by the parties themselves. This is one of the great perks of an uncontested divorce; the power is in the hands of the parties, with the assistance of their attorneys, when it comes to resolving their divorce. Once both parties are satisfied with the terms of their divorce, a Consent Judgment can be drafted and filed. This document will tell the judge that all the terms of the divorce are agreed upon and the parties are ready to finalize their divorce. While uncontested divorces tend to be civil, hiring an attorney can help to guide you along this process.
Some additional perks to uncontested divorces are that they tend to take less time and can cost less money than a contested divorce. Generally speaking, uncontested divorces tend to simplify the divorce process from its conception all the way to its completion. The main factor that determines the length of your uncontested divorce in Michigan is how quickly you can appear for your judgment hearing.
A typical uncontested divorce could look something like this: once you and your spouse have come up with an agreement at the time of filing, you will file your Petition for Consent Judgment. This means you file your Consent Judgment at the outset of the case, and you then have to wait the statutory waiting period (typically 60 days for a divorce without minor children and typically 6 months for a divorce with minor children) before you attend your hearing to finalize your Consent Judgment. Under limited circumstances, such as undue hardship, the court may waive the waiting period. Once the waiting period has passed, and you appear for your hearing, if the judge feels that the agreement was fair and entered in good faith, then the court will sign your Consent Judgment, and your divorce will be completed.
Contested divorces typically involve some shape or form of disagreement between the spouses in regard to factors such as child custody, property division, responsibility of marital debt, and spousal support. Contested divorces can be more time consuming, more costly, and more stressful than uncontested divorces.
In contested divorces, when the parties cannot agree on the various factors of their divorce, what typically ends up happening is that the court will decide what will happen, which could be an unideal outcome. While being in the driver’s seat when it comes to these sorts of things is typically best, it may be impossible if you have a narcissistic or malicious spouse. No matter how badly you may want to resolve things amicably, it can be nearly impossible when you are dealing with a spouse like this. Hiring a knowledgeable attorney to help you through this contested, high conflict divorce will ensure that your interests and rights are protected every step of the way.
In the same way an uncontested divorce has statutory waiting periods, so do contested divorces, the only difference is that these types of divorces tend to go beyond the statutory waiting periods, since it often takes time to work through these conflicts. The length of time depends on what is being disagreed on and how long it takes to come to a resolution. While a majority of contested divorces to end up settling, there are still a few that go to trial, which can prolong the process even longer.
If there are children involved, it is incredibly important to protect them and guide them through this difficult time.
A typical contested divorce could look something like this: you retain an attorney who will draft your paperwork for you and file. Once filed, your attorney will assist you in serving your spouse. Once they’re served, they have an allotted number of days to file their answer. Once an answer is filed, any and all interim / status quo orders or protection orders (if necessary), are filed and entered, then starts discovery, and if minor children are involved, the Friend of the Court will often get involved at this time. Discovery can take many forms, and essentially helps to gather information that will best help your position in resolving the disputed factors of your divorce. After discovery is completed and all of the required status conferences are attended, if you and your spouse have come to an agreement, then your attorneys can draft up the Judgment and it can be placed on the record. If you and your spouse did not come to an agreement, then mediation may be a great next step. If after mediation you and your spouse are still not able to come to an agreement, then your case will likely go to trial.
In short, the main difference between an uncontested divorce and a contested divorce is how much the parties agree on prior to the initiation of the divorce. The ability to be amicable and agree on the various factors of your divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and property distribution, will help to move your divorce along at a quicker pace. The inability to be amicable may prolong your divorce, but in some circumstances, dependent on the particular parties and the factors in dispute, having an uncontested divorce may not be possible, and that is okay.
Whether you have an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce, hiring a HTY Family Attorney is the right choice. While our attorneys are ready and prepared to assist you with you contentious contested divorce, we can also support you through your uncontested divorce by protecting your interests and help to counsel you through the process. Even in divorces that appear to be simple and straight forward, there can be complex underlying legal concerns, and a HTY Family Attorney can help guide you through this process and ensure your interests and rights are protected every step of the way.
Call 855-558-8250 for your free consultation today.