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Uncontested Divorce v. Contested Divorces

Posted on July 24th, 2015

In the state of California, every marriage is a binding, legal agreement between the parties. When the marriage ends in divorce, another legal process is triggered due to the nature of the legal action that the parties originally signed on for. California law requires every party to a divorce to follow this stringent process in order for the marriage to end and fully recognized by the courts.

Divorce in California is either going to be considered “contested” or “uncontested.” Whatever category a divorce falls under, it is important to seek legal advice or have an attorney along for the ride to help you navigate this process.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

An uncontested divorce is where the parties have come to an agreement on most of the issues outside of court, and most likely neither party will ever have to see the inside of a courtroom. When a divorce is uncontested, much of the lengthy legal process is bypassed and the amount of hostility and angst that naturally comes with a divorce proceeding is greatly reduced. As such, an uncontested divorce is usually a much cheaper alternative, in that the parties are avoiding potential lengthy litigation and all the costs that come with it. Once an uncontested divorce is filed, it usually takes about six months to be finalized.

Parties should always try and come to an agreement with as many terms of the divorce as possible. To make a divorce more “uncontested” than not, may parties will utilize arbitration and mediation. This potentially can take a lot more off the table, such as financial issues and other complex matters. Parties should always tale all measures available to them to get their divorce as close to an uncontested one as possible.

CONTESTED DIVORCE

If the parties are unable to agree on one or more issues, then the divorce is contested. Contested divorces go to trial and will ultimately be decided by a judge. The quantity and complexity of the contested issues will ultimately determine the length of the litigation process. These could be financial issues or anything involving children. This could take anywhere from one to four years. This is where a family law attorney is almost mandatory, as they will not only be there to navigate you through the complex legal process, but they will be there to be an advocate for you and represent your interests in ultimately getting a synoptic and equitable result.

In the end, while probably no divorce is going to be truly “uncontested,” how your divorce is categorized will depend on one party’s ability to work with the other.