Getting a divorce doesn’t have to be a fight, and most times, after some initial problems are resolved, the vast majority of cases never go to trial. When people first get started, however, they want to know the difference between a divorce that is contested or uncontested. Whether you believe your divorce will be contested or uncontested, it is imperative to have a lawyer review your agreement and to guide you in the process. No matter which way you go, your lawyer will need to complete certain petitions and judgments. It is important that your agreement is written in the correct manner and that you don’t forget important things that are typical in all divorce judgments.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree to all the terms that are pertinent to their divorce. Because the two parties have agreed on everything, they would not need a judge to make decisions for them — thus, there would be no need to go to trial. In general, uncontested divorces are less complicated, less of a financial burden, and proceed through the system more quickly than a contested divorce.
Who is Best Suited for an Uncontested Divorce?
If you believe that you and your ex-spouse can amicably agree on the terms of your divorce, opt for an uncontested divorce. This will also benefit you financially and emotionally. On the other hand, if you and your spouse are unable to communicate with one another without fighting or domestic violence is a part of your marriage, an uncontested divorce will not work. When there is an apparent disparity of power or history of domestic violence or emotional abuse, this places one spouse with an unfair advantage over the other, and an uncontested divorce may not be possible. If only one spouse is anxious to settle, understand that both parties must agree for a settlement to proceed in an uncontested divorce.
What is a Contested Divorce?
Contested divorces are the opposite of uncontested divorces. In a contested divorce, parties are not able to come to an agreement, and thus need to go to trial to present their case to a judge. When you realize that your case is contested, arrange a meeting with your attorney. At this meeting, your attorney will help you decide what the issues are and the best way to resolve it. Most likely, an agreeable solution can still result in a settlement, and if not, at least you’ve clarified the issues for the court.
What Issues Need to Be Addressed in All Divorces?
Four main issues need to be resolved and agreed upon to get are divorce are:
- Child custody and child support
- Spousal support (often referred to as alimony)
- Division of debt
- Division of assets
Depending on the family and financial circumstances, these issues can either be relatively easy to address, or complicated. For example, if children are involved, you need to determine what parenting schedule each parent will have, and who will be responsible for decisions concerning doctors, schooling and extracurricular activities. If you cannot, or there is even one issue left resolved, then you no longer have an uncontested case. After the child-related issues are resolved, the financial issues must be resolved. Who will pay child support and how much? Will either of you received maintenance, which used to be called alimony? Have you divided the pensions and/or retirement accounts? Who gets the house?
Do not try to rush the process, and keep in mind that even if you and your spouse resolve all issues, you must discuss these issues with your attorney. You do not want to leave any stone unturned and have unresolved issues come up after the divorce is finalized.
After an Agreement Is Reached, What Happens Next?
After an agreement is reached, the paperwork must be prepared. You’ll start the case with a Petition for Dissolution. Your case is then active and once you inform the court that all issues are resolved, an Allocation Judgment must be prepared for the child-related issues, and for the financial issues, a Marital Settlement Agreement, and a Judgment.
The final court date is called a prove up. You and your spouse will both appear in most cases. While the pandemic is going on, the courts are allowing divorces to proceed by submitting the paperwork to the judge without the parties coming to court. Once the judge signs the judgment, your case is over.
Ultimately, it is essential to keep in mind that working hard to come to an agreement with your spouse will be the best decision for both parties. People tend to follow the provisions in their agreements more readily when they’ve reached the agreement themselves. Keep in mind that if you cannot resolve matters yourself, then a judge who knows nothing about you will decide your fate in life. Lastly, when you have children together, you will see your ex-spouse forever. At every graduation, extracurricular activity, and eventually, at weddings and grand children’s events. Think of that when you cast negative comments at your spouse. Give each other the respect you both deserve and the process won’t be as daunting.
Whether Contested or Uncontested Get Trusted Advice from a Chicago Divorce Lawyer
If you are interested in moving forward with your divorce, you should first speak to an experienced divorce attorney. Never sign any documents, without consulting your attorney. Your attorney will ensure that the terms you agree to are accurately reflected in the paperwork presented to the Court. For a free consultation with one of our experienced Chicago divorce attorneys, contact us today.