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Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

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In an uncontested divorce the Wife and Husband (the parties) have come to an agreement or are very close to coming to an agreement regarding all issues of their divorce. Generally speaking, there are no court appearances.

The issues that both parties must be in agreement include the following:

  • Division of Marital Debt
  • Division of Marital Assets
  • Everything involving the Child(ren)
  • Custody (Physical and Legal)
  • Visitation
  • Child Support

If all issues are agreed upon then the divorce is considered uncontested and will proceed as such. An uncontested divorce is a quick process that does not have to be unnecessarily expensive. The process includes an attorney drafting a contract between the parties that details the agreement regarding the above issues. Once the agreement is signed by the parties, the final divorce paperwork is submitted to the Supreme Court for processing. The divorce ends when the Supreme Court returns a Judgment of Divorce with Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law.

Do both parties need an attorney in an uncontested divorce?

It is highly recommended that both parties have their own attorneys, as each one will represent the interests of their client only. The attorney can draft an agreement for their client and present it to the unrepresented party for review but the attorney cannot offer any advice or consult with the unrepresented party. This is a very strict rule for all lawyers.

How do I know if my case is Uncontested?

An uncontested divorce case usually has certain indicators such as:

  • The parties do not fight or argue unreasonably
  • There are no claims of domestic violence
  • The marriage is of a short duration
  • There are very little or no assets or debts
  • There are no children or if there are children there is an understanding regarding custody, visitation and child support
  • Both parties are W-2 wage earners

This is only a short list of criteria to consider when determining of your divorce action will be uncontested.

The Contested Divorce Action

In a contested divorce action the Husband and Wife cannot come to an agreement regarding the following issues:

  • Division of Marital Debt
  • Division of Marital Assets
  • Everything involving the Child(ren)
  • Custody (Physical and Legal)
  • Visitation
  • Child Support

In the event that an agreement cannot be reached a judge, after trial, will decide these issues. This is considered a contested litigated divorce matter.

The Litigation Process in a Contested Divorce Action

  • Filing of a Summons and Complaint
  • Pendente Lite Issues are determined
  • The Parties appear in Court for a Preliminary Discovery scheduling conference
  • The Discovery process begins
  • Exchange of financial documents
  • Appraisal of real property
  • Valuation of degrees
  • Depositions of the parties
  • Subpoenas are issued
  • Trial evidence information is exchanged
  • The parties again appear in Court for additional conferences regarding discovery and/or settlement on an as needed basis
  • The parties appear for a pre-trial conference with the judge or court attorney
  • Outstanding motions are decided
  • The trial begins
  • Post-trial motions or necessary memorandum are submitted to the court.
  • The divorce is finalized.

On a positive note some issues begin by being contested but during the divorce litigation process a settlement or agreement can be reached thereby limiting the issues for a judge to decide.

What are the costs of a contested divorce action?

A contested divorce action can have several different types of costs. These costs include legal fees, fees for experts, fees for appraisals and any other fee the court determines is necessary during the pendency of the action. The extent of the costs and the length of the entire process are entirely determined on a case by case basis.

How can a White Plains divorce attorney help?

In any divorce action it is essential that you are represented by an attorney. At the law firm of Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP our attorneys have extensive experience in both uncontested and contested divorce matters. In fact it is not uncommon that our attorneys may recommend you begin your matter as an uncontested divorce before moving forward into a contested litigated divorce case.

We offer a Free Initial Legal Consultation for all Divorce Matters

As part of our commitment to providing excellent legal representation to all of our clients, whether they are a new client, existing client or returning client, our Westchester County divorce lawyers provide free initial legal consultations.

Contact our law firm for more information about how our experienced divorce lawyers can help you with your divorce matter. Contact us online or by telephone at (914) 840-5104.

Why You Should Choose Our Law Firm

  • Experience & Perspective

    65+ years of combined experience, including criminal prosecution

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    Co-authored national bestsellers on DWI and criminal defense

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