Understanding Contested Versus Uncontested Divorces
So you want a divorce. That’s just the beginning. You may find yourself facing a whole bunch of terms you don’t understand. Are you filing for contested or uncontested divorce? What is uncontested divorce, you may ask? Do I need an attorney? Is my divorce case going to trial like it does on TV shows or in movies? How much is this going to cost me? Understanding the basics about the divorce process can help eliminate confusion and undue stress on top of everything else you’re dealing with. Depending on your divorce, there are some questions to ask a divorce lawyer that only a lawyer will be able to answer for you. So let’s talk about some of the more immediate questions, like what is uncontested divorce and whether or not you’ll need a lawyer in the first place.
What Do Divorce Rates Look Like Currently?
Although being divorced was scandalous fifty or sixty years ago, in recent years, it’s become more mainstream, so to speak. And it’s not just for young people — indeed, a study from Bowling Green State University shows that divorce rates for couples who are over the age of 50 have doubled in the last 20 years.
Currently, for a first marriage, the divorce rate is around 41%, 60% for a second marriage, and 73% for a third marriage. The average length of time for a first marriage that ends in divorce is about eight years. Interestingly, Western states boast the highest marriage and divorce rates, with the South close behind. The Northeast typically has the lowest marriage and divorce rates.
The five professions that are more likely to divorce than others are salespeople, podiatrists, optometrists, nuclear engineers, and agricultural engineers and the most common reasons for divorce are issues communicating, infidelity, money problems, abuse, or simple lack of interest.
What is Uncontested Divorce Versus Contested Divorce?
Many people filing for divorce hope for an uncontested divorce, because it’s much simpler and much less expensive than a contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree that a) they want the divorce, and b) on the terms of the divorce. The terms of the divorce can include who gets custody or how parenting (and its responsibilities) will be shared, whether child support or alimony need to be paid (and if so, how much and for how long), and how any property and debt is divided up. There can be other terms, but these are generally the ones that are covered.
With a contested divorce, one party does not agree to either the divorce itself or to a term or terms of the divorce. You’re going to have to jump through way more hoops before your divorce is considered final, but there are many good reasons that spouses may go through a contested divorce.
With a contested divorce, you need to file for divorce and respond to the petition just like with a regular divorce. It’s suggested that with a contested divorce, both parties have legal representation. You’ll need to gather information, go through any pre-trial motions and hearings, and your attorneys will attempt to negotiate a settlement that everyone is satisfied with. If settlement doesn’t work out, it will go to trial. Once the trial is over, your divorce will be final, unless you decide to appeal.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer For a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce can often get nasty and if your spouse has a lawyer already, it’s in your best interests to also seek legal representation. They can help negotiate on your behalf, walk you through the paperwork, and what information needs to be gathered, as well as advise you on what to say or not to say. If there’s violence in the relationship, a lawyer may also be able to appeal to the judge or the courts for protection.
Now you can hopefully answer the question: “What is uncontested divorce?” and have a better picture of what to expect with either process. And remember, it’s always wise to get a divorce lawyer, just to make sure that your interests and assets are protected.