Contested vs. Uncontested

Divorce is a legal action initiated to dissolve a marriage. It can be complicated but it does not always have to be contentious. Depending on whether the parties can agree, the dissolution of a marriage can be accomplished through either an uncontested or a contested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree to the divorce. The spouses can work together to reach agreements to settle the critical issues in the divorce. Through open communication or negotiation, they can come to an agreement on matters such as division of marital property, child custody, parenting time, and spousal maintenance (alimony).

What is a contested divorce?

When spouses are not able to reach an agreement on one or several aspects of divorce, the divorce will be contested. One spouse may not agree to divorce at all. It may be that both spouses agree to the divorce but cannot agree on the major issues, such as parenting time or spousal support. In some cases, a dispute over a particular item of marital property can result in a contested divorce. The judge may order the spouses to utilize mediation or some alternative dispute resolution. Ultimately, when a couple cannot agree, the matter is settled with litigation.

What are the advantages of an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce has several important advantages over a contested divorce:

  • It is a simpler, easier process, as there is no need to go to trial.
  • A divorce moves through the system faster and gets finalized sooner when it is uncontested.
  • The financial burden is considerably less when divorce is uncontested.
  • Mutually accepted agreements reached in an uncontested divorce can make post-divorce life easier.
  • Spouses retain more control over the outcome when a divorce is uncontested, as opposed to issues being settled by a judge.

When is a contested divorce the only option?

When only one spouse wants to settle and the other refuses to cooperate, it may not be possible to obtain an uncontested divorce. If there has been a history of emotional abuse, one spouse could be at a disadvantage in discussions or negotiations to resolve major issues. If domestic violence is involved in the marriage or the spouses are unable to communicate without arguing, an uncontested divorce may not be possible. This leaves contested divorce as the only remaining option.

How complicated is contested divorce in Chicago or the Chicagoland suburban area?

A contested divorce is much more expensive than an uncontested divorce. It may take up to two years or longer to get a divorce in Illinois if your case goes to trial. Before proceeding to litigation, you may be court-ordered to mediation or some type of dispute resolution. When you go to trial, you no longer have control over the outcome.

How are disputed issues determined in a contested divorce?

When divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement between each other on issues involved in the divorce, these issues are left up to a judge to decide. During the divorce trial, attorneys for both sides present their arguments to the judge. Family court judges rule on issues concerning children based on the best interests of the child. Marital property is divided on a basis of equitable distribution, with a division of assets that is fair but not necessarily equal. Spousal maintenance may be awarded after the court considers need, ability to pay, duration of the marriage, and other factors.

From complex litigation to negotiated settlements to appeals, our talented divorce lawyers at Beermann LLP in Chicago and the Chicagoland suburban area are known for achieving exceptional results. When you come to our firm for an uncontested or a contested divorce, we provide a thoughtfully selected team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff to suit your unique needs.