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Understanding contested and uncontested divorces

There are typically two types of divorces available in most states. Separating couples approaching a divorce should educate themselves on the differences between contested and uncontested divorces.

Whether your divorce goes to court or not will depend upon the investments you each have made in your marriage, as well as your considerations regarding the best interests of your children.

Contested divorce

A contested divorce is any divorce where the spouses choose to seek legal remedy for disagreements on the proper dissolution of marriage. Sometimes both parties may want the divorce, and other times one spouse does not want the divorce. In many contested divorces, a legal remedy is necessary because they cannot agree on issues regarding child custody, child support, spousal support and property division.

Typical legal process for a contested divorce

  • Meet with your lawyer
  • Serve the divorce petition upon your spouse
  • Receive a response to the petition from your spouse
  • The discovery process, in which case information is exchanged
  • Negotiations toward a divorce settlement
  • If negotiations fail, a trial in divorce court
  • In some cases, post-trial motions are heard
  • In some cases, an appeal is sought

Uncontested divorce

Uncontested divorce is often a faster, less-expensive method for the dissolution of a marriage. This type of divorce occurs when the couple agrees on all issues required to terminate the marriage. This does not mean the divorce was entirely amicable, but the couple was able to negotiate all disputed issues without going to court. Also, if you cannot locate your spouse after a diligent search, or if they live out of state or abroad, the divorce may be considered uncontested.

Differences between contested and uncontested divorce

  • One is quick, the other is lengthy

An uncontested divorce in Illinois is the quickest and most affordable way to get a divorce. A contested divorce, however, can take more time and cost more money.

  • Uncontested divorce can be less stressful

Though both types of divorces have their own stressors and each divorce is unique, a contested divorce is usually more stressful. The process is longer and costs more, which can cause financial instability. An uncontested divorce relieves stress because of its predictable process. Stress is minimized when people can move through the process quickly.

Though legal counsel is not a necessary factor of uncontested divorces, a skilled family law attorney may help determine what type of divorce is right for you.

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