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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce: Which One is Right for Me?

Cynthia J. Bohn Attorney at Law Feb. 12, 2024

Decisive women taking off wedding ringWhen a marriage comes to an end, the path forward can take many forms. Deciding between a contested or uncontested divorce is like choosing between two distinct roads, each leading to a new chapter of life. Your choice will impact both the proceedings and the aftermath of your divorce.  

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

Simply put, an uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all aspects of their separation, including property division, child custody, and spousal support. It's a less adversarial process, as it doesn't involve a lengthy court battle.  

The pros of an uncontested divorce include:  

  • Cost Efficiency: Uncontested divorces are typically less expensive because they require fewer court fees and legal expenses. 

  • Speed: Since there is no need for a trial, the divorce process is usually much faster. 

  • Privacy: With less court involvement, uncontested divorces often allow the details of the separation to remain more private. 

  • Reduced Conflict: Agreeing on the terms of the divorce can lead to better post-divorce relationships, especially when children are involved. 

  • Control: Both parties have more say in the outcome, as they can negotiate terms without a judge's intervention. 

Alternatively, some of the cons of an uncontested divorce include:  

  • Overlooked Issues: Couples may agree to terms without fully understanding their legal rights, potentially resulting in unfair settlements. 

  • Hidden Assets: One spouse may agree to less than they are entitled to simply because they're unaware of the other's finances. 

  • Pressure to Settle: In some cases, an individual might feel pressured to settle the divorce quickly, which might not be in their best interest. 

  • Legal Representation: Often, individuals may forgo legal representation in an uncontested divorce, which could lead to long-term negative consequences if the legal documents don't reflect their intentions accurately. 

I help my clients prepare all the necessary paperwork, working to ensure every detail is properly addressed. Once we've filed the papers, it's just a matter of waiting for the court to approve our agreement.  

What Is a Contested Divorce?

On the other hand, a contested divorce happens when spouses can't agree on one or more issues related to their divorce. This could be anything from who gets the house to how much alimony should be paid. When this occurs, it's up to the court to make the final decision.  

Some of the pros of a contested divorce include: 

  • Thorough Consideration: A contested divorce typically involves more thorough negotiations and legal scrutiny, ensuring all issues are well-examined before reaching a settlement. 

  • Legal Protections: With both parties having legal representation, there is less chance of overlooking individual rights and interests. 

  • Fair Asset Distribution: The court's involvement in a contested divorce can lead to a fairer division of assets, especially in situations where one party may be hiding resources or not disclosing their full financial situation. 

  • Best Interest of Children: When parents can't agree, the court steps in to decide on child custody and support, focusing on the best interests of the children involved. 

  • Enforceability: Orders from a court are legally binding and enforceable, which may prevent future disagreements or the need for further legal actions. 

On the other hand, some of the cons of a contested divorce include: 

  • Higher Costs: The extensive legal counsel and court appearances required in contested divorces result in higher attorney fees and court costs. 

  • Emotional Strain: This type of divorce can be emotionally draining and stressful for all parties involved, including children. 

  • Time-Consuming: It may take months or even years to finalize a contested divorce due to court schedules and the complexity of negotiations. 

  • Public Records: Most court proceedings are matters of public record, which means the details of your divorce could be accessible to the public. 

  • Unpredictability: Relying on a judge to make decisions can be a gamble as the outcome may not align with either party's expectations or desires. 

As your divorce attorney, I'm here to represent you during these proceedings and advocate for your best interests. My role involves gathering evidence, negotiating with the opposing counsel, and presenting your case in the most compelling way possible. 

Which One Is Right for Me?

Determining the type of divorce that's right for you involves considering a variety of factors. If you and your spouse can amicably agree on all terms of your separation, an uncontested divorce might be the best choice. However, if there are significant disagreements or you feel your rights may be jeopardized, a contested divorce could be necessary.  

Remember, every situation is unique. What worked for a friend or family member may not be the best solution for you. It's important to consider your personal circumstances, emotional state, financial situation, and long-term goals when making this decision. 

How an Attorney Can Help You Decide

As an experienced attorney who has worked with clients across Davidson County, Sumner County, Wilson County, and Rutherford County, I understand the details involved in divorce law. From my office, Cynthia J. Bohn Attorney at Law, I'm here to help you navigate these challenging decisions. My role is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed choice about your future. 

Whether you're leaning towards an uncontested divorce but aren't sure how to negotiate the terms, or you're preparing for a contested divorce and need someone to advocate for your rights in court, I'm here to assist. My approach is always tailored to your specific needs and circumstances, ensuring that you receive the support and guidance you require during this pivotal time in your life. Together, we'll work to achieve the best possible outcome for your divorce proceedings.