When you get divorced, the proceedings can fall into one of two categories: a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. This will change some key factors about how the process plays out, so it’s important to know where you stand.
Some people make the mistake of believing that a contested divorce means that their spouse is contesting whether or not the divorce will even happen. For instance, they believe they have to ask the judge for the divorce and that the judge has to grant it, overruling their spouse’s request to keep the marriage intact. But this is not what the word contested indicates in a divorce sense.
It means you don’t agree on the terms
It’s not the divorce itself that’s being contested, but the terms of that divorce. It means that you and your spouse cannot agree on some of the most important parts of this process, so you need the court to do it for you. An uncontested divorce is one where two people generally agree on how to split up their assets or their time with the kids, and they might just need to use mediation. But a contested divorce has to go through court.
There are many things that you may disagree on when you decide to split up. Common examples include property division or child custody. Perhaps your spouse wants to have sole custody and never wants the children to live with you, but you would rather split things evenly. Or perhaps your spouse believes they should be able to take some of the marital assets, claiming that they actually should be qualified as separate assets.
How the court can help
In a situation like this, the court is not granting you the divorce as much as they’re helping you find solutions to these issues. The judge can make a ruling that both you and your spouse are then legally obligated to follow. Even if the two of you don’t agree with each other – and even if one of you doesn’t agree with the ruling that the court made – this at least provides you with a way to move forward.
Exactly what happens during this process is going to have a major impact on your life after the divorce. Make sure you know about all of the steps you’ll need to take.