While most people understand what a divorce is and the basics of what one entails, you may not realize that there are different types of divorces: contested and uncontested. These two terms may sound fairly straightforward, and in most cases, they are. If you’re unfamiliar with them, read below to discover their differences.

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What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces are the easiest and least expensive type of divorce. In this case, both spouses fully agree on how their assets and property will be divided up along with any child custody arrangements. Divorce attorneys will still be consulted for this type of divorce to write up the legal agreement and arrange for the final hearing.

Even with uncontested divorces, you may be asked for the grounds of the divorce. Depending on the state’s laws, at least one of the spouses must be living in the state for a certain amount of time before a divorce can be filed.

Many couples think they may qualify for an uncontested divorce when, in reality, they do not. Simply agreeing to a divorce does not automatically qualify you for an uncontested divorce. To qualify for an uncontested divorce, both spouses must: 

  • Agree to a dissolution
  • Arrange a property settlement 
  • Agree to a detailed parenting plan (if minor children are involved)
  • Determine an amount of child support (if minor children are involved)
  • Arrange alimony (if applicable)
  • Have no outstanding issues
  • Be fully prepared to sign

If there are certain issues that you and your spouse do not agree on, you do not qualify for an uncontested divorce, and instead, you’ll be required to file for a contested divorce.

What is a Contested Divorce?

When you think of filing for a divorce, you likely think of a contested divorce. In this case, spouses cannot agree on every aspect of the divorce, and a judge is involved. Then, divorce attorneys are consulted by both parties, and the filing process begins.

In contested divorces, you and your spouse may disagree on one aspect or multiple aspects of the divorce including: 

  • Alimony (if applicable)
  • Child support and custody (if minor children are involved)
  • Property and asset division
  • Attorney fees

For most contested divorces, you will have to present any financial statements that show proof of your financial situation. This may be taken into account when the court decides on the ruling for your divorce.

You and your spouse will first be expected to attend a mediation hearing for all non-emergency matters. If you are unable to settle your disputes, then a court hearing may be scheduled and a trial set in front of a judge who will settle the dispute for you.

Contested divorces are more expensive and complicated. Even if you do file for a contested divorce, it’s best to try and settle as many disputes as possible during mediation and before the trial as this will save you both time and money. In cases where this is not possible or the safety of you or your spouse is at risk, such as with domestic abuse cases, a judge’s decision may be the best course of action to take.

Do I Need an Attorney for Uncontested Divorces?

You’ll be required to have an attorney in contested divorces, but in uncontested divorced, you may be at a loss as to whether you really need one. 

Even with uncontested divorces, it’s recommended that you hire an attorney to oversee your case and ensure that nothing is overlooked. You and your spouse may be on amicable terms, but it’s always a good idea to have an attorney in case things suddenly get messy or a new issue pops up that requires your attention.


Both contested and uncontested divorces have their challenges, which is why hiring a professional attorney is an important step in any divorce process. With an experienced professional at your side, the process will go smoother. Give us a call today to see how we can represent and advise you through your divorce.