Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce: What’s the Difference?

As a no-fault divorce state, Michigan doesn’t require you to prove grounds for divorce. But that doesn’t mean that all divorces are smooth sailing. In any divorce, both you and your ex will have to settle important issues regarding custody, support, property division, and alimony. How well you can negotiate these terms will determine whether you must proceed with a contested divorce vs. uncontested divorce.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, you and your ex come to an agreement on most of the matters related to the dissolution of your marriage. This doesn’t mean that the divorce was completely amicable or without fault. It simply means that you can settle the matter out of court.

An uncontested divorce comes with certain advantages. One is that it saves you the cost and hassle of litigation. Also, uncontested divorces tend to move along faster, allowing you and your family to avoid a long, drawn-out battle.

Here’s how the process works: one spouse will file a divorce petition with the court, and then serve the other spouse with the papers. The other spouse can respond by stating they agree with the terms, and then jointly request the court to grant the divorce. If the spouse chooses not to respond, the court will issue the filing spouse a default order that grants the divorce on the complaint terms.

You and your ex are allowed to settle any matter that doesn’t directly relate to the welfare of a minor child. When children are involved, the case will be referred to an applicable court that will conduct interviews with the children and make recommendations. If one or both spouses disagree with the recommendations of the court, the divorce would become contested.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

Even in cases where both parties reach an agreement on the majority of issues, if there is one issue you don’t agree on, it becomes a contested divorce. That means that you must approach a court to adjudicate the dispute.

A contested divorce can be expensive and time-consuming, sometimes dragging on for months or even years. If you and your ex cannot settle your differences through negotiations or mediation, you will have to take your case to trial. And since it requires the decision of the court, your financial information becomes public record.

Of course, most couples would prefer to end their marriage as simply as possible. But while a divorce may begin in mediation, sometimes it becomes apparent that the parties don’t see eye-to-eye on key issues. Or one spouse may be trying to avoid certain obligations or devalue assets. In these cases, a contested divorce may become a necessity.

Speak to a Rochester Hills Divorce Attorney to Learn More About Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce

Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, it’s important to enlist the help of an attorney early on in the proceedings. Your divorce attorney can negotiate with the other party in order to make sure you protect your rights, ensure that you properly review and file all of the necessary paperwork, and present your case before the court if necessary. To learn more about contested divorce vs. uncontested divorce and how the distinction applies to your case, contact Sumner & Associates, P.C. today.

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