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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

September 9, 2022

By Thomas McCutcheon

There are two kinds of legal divorce: a divorce that doesn’t end up in court and a divorce that does.  

Sometimes, spouses separate amicably. They agree to divide the assets and debts they have acquired during their marriage. They enter into what’s known as an uncontested divorce, a kind of out-of-court settlement, and simply file a joint petition for divorce along with the necessary pleadings and forms with the county clerk’s office.  

A contested divorce is a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive. It’s the reason divorce lawyers exist. When a couple can’t agree about how to divide the kids and the money, the court decides for them. They become entangled in litigation, which by definition turns them into adversaries.  

But there are many reasons this may seem like a couple’s only option. 

Extricating two interwoven lives from one another can be tricky. Often, emotions are running high, and a fear of the unknown future is very real. Contested divorce hearings can last for months and require several court appearances. A contested divorce can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000.  

Expenses include lawyers, relators, and even therapists for the children. Often the value of an ongoing business has to be determined by the court and that is always complicated. Business valuation experts are expensive. What you find on the internet is not admissible in court.  

The route chosen will be determined by the couple’s circumstances. Every marriage is different. Only the people involved will be able to make that choice. Most people who have been through a divorce, and particularly a contested divorce, recommend seeking legal advice, particularly if the stakes are high. If you don’t have kids and many shared assets, it makes sense to agree outside of a courtroom. But if matters are complicated or there is a lot of money involved, it is a good idea to seek legal help.  

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!


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