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Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce: What’s the Difference?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

In a divorce, couples often face decisions regarding asset division, spousal support, child custody, and more. An uncontested divorce occurs when the couple agrees on all major issues before trial, while a contested divorce arises when there are disagreements that require court intervention.

Uncontested divorces are usually faster and less expensive, while contested divorces may involve lengthy litigation and decisions made by a judge. It is important to note that all states now have some form of “no-fault” divorce, allowing anyone who wants a divorce to obtain one, even if one party opposes it.

Key Takeaways:

  • An uncontested divorce occurs when the couple agrees on all major issues before trial.
  • A contested divorce arises when there are disagreements that require court intervention.
  • Uncontested divorces are usually faster and less expensive than contested divorces.
  • No-fault divorce laws allow anyone who wants a divorce to obtain one, even if one party opposes it.
  • All states have some form of no-fault divorce.

Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce offers several advantages and disadvantages to consider. Understanding the pros and cons can help you make an informed decision about whether it is the right option for your situation.

One of the biggest advantages of an uncontested divorce is the time saved in the process. Without the need for a trial or extensive legal procedures, an uncontested divorce can be finalized relatively quickly. This means less time spent in court and more time for you to move on with your life.

Additionally, uncontested divorces often come with lower legal fees. Since there is no need for litigation or lengthy negotiations, the overall cost of the divorce can be significantly reduced. This can be particularly beneficial if you are on a tight budget or want to minimize the financial impact of the divorce.

Time-savingNot appealable
Lower legal feesDifficulty in reaching an agreement
Control over the outcomeMay require professional assistance

However, it is essential to consider the potential downsides of an uncontested divorce as well. One of these is that uncontested divorces are generally not appealable. Once the agreement is finalized, it becomes legally binding, and changes can only be made in certain circumstances.

Another potential disadvantage is that coming to an agreement with your ex-spouse may not be easy. Divorces can involve complex issues, such as asset division and child custody, which may require extensive negotiations. In some cases, professional assistance, such as divorce attorneys or mediation, may be necessary to help resolve any disagreements.

In summary, an uncontested divorce offers time and cost savings, as well as the ability to have more control over the outcome. However, it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly if reaching an agreement is challenging or circumstances may change significantly in the future.

The Process of an Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, the process begins with the couple reaching an agreement on all major issues without the need for court intervention. This can be achieved through open communication, negotiation, and potentially with the assistance of divorce attorneys and mediation. Once the agreement is reached, the couple can proceed to file for divorce.

After filing for divorce, the court will review the agreement to ensure it meets the legal requirements and is in the best interest of both parties. The court will also consider any applicable state laws regarding divorce procedures. Depending on the state, there may be a specific waiting period before the divorce can be finalized.

It is important to note that the specific requirements and procedures for an uncontested divorce may vary by state. Some states may require the couple to complete certain forms or attend a hearing to finalize the divorce. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a divorce attorney or familiarize oneself with the laws of the relevant state to ensure a smooth and successful uncontested divorce process.

Comparison of Uncontested and Contested Divorce Processes

AspectUncontested DivorceContested Divorce
AgreementThe couple agrees on all major issues before filing for divorce.The couple has disagreements that require court intervention to make decisions.
Length of ProcessGenerally faster, as there is no need for a trial or extensive legal procedures.May involve lengthy litigation, court hearings, and the discovery process.
Legal FeesOften lower, as there is no need for extensive court involvement.Can be higher due to court appearances, hearings, and legal representation.
Control over OutcomeThe couple has more control over the final agreements and can reach an agreement they are both satisfied with.The judge ultimately makes the final decisions regarding major issues.

It is crucial for individuals considering an uncontested divorce to understand the specific requirements and procedures of their state, as well as the complexities of their unique situation. Seeking professional guidance from divorce attorneys and potentially pursuing mediation can help ensure a smoother process and resolution of differences.

uncontested divorce process

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Contested Divorce

While a contested divorce provides the opportunity for both parties to present their arguments and evidence in court, it also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some key factors to consider:

Advantages of a Contested Divorce

  • Allows for presenting arguments: In a contested divorce, both parties have the chance to express their concerns and positions on important matters, ensuring their voices are heard.

Disadvantages of a Contested Divorce

  • Time-consuming and costly: Contested divorces often involve lengthy court hearings, discovery processes, and legal fees, which can lead to significant time and financial expenses.
  • Limited control over the outcome: In a contested divorce, the final decisions are made by a judge, who may not align with the priorities or wishes of the couple. This lack of control over the outcome can be a disadvantage.

It is essential to weigh these advantages and disadvantages carefully when deciding between an uncontested and contested divorce. Consider the level of agreement with your spouse, the complexity of the issues involved, and the potential impact on time and financial resources. Seeking professional guidance from experienced divorce attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of a contested divorce and make informed decisions throughout the process.

advantages and disadvantages of a contested divorce

The Process of a Contested Divorce

Going through a contested divorce can be a complex and challenging process. It involves several stages and may require court intervention to reach a resolution. Here is an overview of the typical process of a contested divorce:

  1. Filing a petition: The process begins when one spouse files a petition for divorce, outlining the reasons for the divorce and any specific requests regarding asset division, child custody, and spousal support.
  2. Serving the petition: The filed petition must then be served to the other spouse, ensuring they are made aware of the divorce proceedings and have the opportunity to respond.
  3. Response: The served spouse has a specific timeframe, typically 30 days, to respond to the petition. They can either contest the divorce or agree with the terms proposed by the filing spouse.
  4. Discovery: If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the next step is the discovery phase. This involves gathering information and evidence related to the divorce, such as financial documents, witness testimonies, and expert reports.
  5. Negotiation and mediation: Before going to court, the couple may opt for negotiation and mediation to try and settle their differences. A neutral third-party mediator assists in facilitating discussions and reaching a mutually acceptable resolution.
  6. Court trial: If negotiations and mediation fail, the case proceeds to a court trial. Both spouses present their arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies before a judge, who then makes the final decisions on contested issues.
  7. Judgment and orders: Following the court trial, the judge issues a judgment and orders that outline the division of assets, child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and any spousal support payments.
  8. Appeals: In some cases, either party may choose to appeal the judge’s decision. However, it’s important to note that appeals can be lengthy and costly.

It’s crucial to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the contested divorce process and protect your rights and interests. They can help you navigate the legal complexities, gather necessary evidence, and represent you effectively in court if necessary.

Remember, contested divorces can be emotionally draining and financially burdensome. It’s essential to prioritize self-care, seek support from loved ones, and explore alternative dispute resolution methods as you navigate through this challenging period.

Allows both parties to present their arguments and evidence in court.Can be time-consuming and costly.
May be beneficial if one spouse feels strongly about certain concerns.The outcome may not align with the priorities of the couple.

Specifics of Uncontested Divorce in Illinois

If you and your spouse are considering an uncontested divorce in Illinois, it is important to understand the specific requirements and process involved. In Illinois, an uncontested divorce means that both parties are in agreement on all divorce-related issues, including asset division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. This type of divorce can be a quicker and more affordable option compared to a contested divorce.

Eligibility for Uncontested Divorce:

Illinois has a specific type of uncontested divorce known as a “joint simplified dissolution.” To qualify for this type of divorce, certain eligibility requirements must be met:

  • The marriage duration must be five years or less
  • No children are involved
  • The total value of marital property is less than a certain threshold (currently $50,000)
  • The combined gross annual income of both parties is below a specific limit (currently $60,000)
  • Both parties must waive spousal support

If these criteria are not met, a standard uncontested divorce can still be pursued, but the joint simplified dissolution option may not be available.

The Uncontested Divorce Process:

Once eligibility is determined, the process for an uncontested divorce in Illinois involves the following steps:

  1. Both parties complete and sign a Joint Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  2. The petition is filed with the circuit court clerk.
  3. A court hearing is scheduled, typically within 30 days.
  4. Both parties must attend the court hearing.
  5. If the judge approves the divorce, a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is entered.
  6. The divorce is finalized and both parties receive a copy of the judgment.

It is important to note that the uncontested divorce process may vary slightly depending on the specific county in Illinois. Consulting with a divorce attorney can help ensure that all necessary steps are followed correctly.

Specifics of Contested Divorce in Missouri

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on important divorce-related terms, you may be facing a contested divorce in Missouri. In this type of divorce, disagreements can arise over a variety of issues, such as child custody, division of assets, and spousal support. It’s important to understand the specifics of a contested divorce in Missouri to navigate the process effectively.

The Process of Filing for a Contested Divorce in Missouri

When initiating a contested divorce in Missouri, one spouse must file a petition with the court, formally beginning the legal process. This petition must be properly served to the other spouse, who then has a designated timeframe to respond. If the responding spouse fails to respond within the required time, they may be considered in default, and the court can proceed with the divorce without their input.

If both spouses are actively participating in the divorce, they may have the opportunity to reach a settlement agreement through negotiation or mediation. This can help facilitate a resolution that both parties find agreeable without the need for a court trial. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the divorce case will proceed to court.

The Role of Litigation in a Contested Divorce

Once a contested divorce case goes to court, a judge will hear arguments from both parties and make decisions regarding the disputed issues. This can involve presenting evidence, questioning witnesses, and providing legal arguments to support each party’s position. The judge’s final decisions will determine matters such as child custody, visitation schedules, division of marital property, and any necessary support orders.

It’s important to note that contested divorces in Missouri can be time-consuming and costly. The length of the process will depend on the complexity of the issues involved and the court’s availability. Hiring a skilled divorce attorney who specializes in contested divorces can help ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the proceedings.

Pros and Cons of Contested Divorce in Missouri

Allows both parties to present arguments and evidenceCan be time-consuming
Provides an opportunity to assert strong concernsMay involve costly litigation
Ensures a judge makes the final decisionsFinal outcome may not align with both parties’ priorities


When deciding between an uncontested divorce and a contested divorce, it’s crucial to consider the level of agreement with your spouse and the complexity of the issues at hand. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on all major issues, opting for an uncontested divorce is usually the preferred choice. Not only are uncontested divorces faster, but they also tend to be less costly.

On the other hand, if there are significant disagreements or complex matters that require court intervention, a contested divorce may be necessary. In such cases, it’s essential to seek professional guidance from divorce attorneys and consider pursuing mediation to ensure a smoother process and the resolution of differences.

Ultimately, the decision to choose between an uncontested divorce and a contested divorce depends on your unique circumstances and needs. Whichever path you select, remember that seeking the assistance of professionals can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the divorce process.

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