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Is There a Real Difference Between an Uncontested and Contested Divorce?

There is a real difference between an uncontested and contested divorce. Generally, uncontested divorce follows a different procedural path than contested divorce does. It is important to realize, however, that what started as an uncontested divorce can become contested. Also, a contested divorce could become uncontested.

We understand how confusing this can sound. A North Carolina family law attorney can handle your divorce whether it is contested or uncontested, and help you try to resolve as many of the unresolved issues as possible in your divorce.

An Overview of Uncontested Divorce in North Carolina

Uncontested divorces also get called “amicable” or “civilized” divorces. Let’s say that you and your spouse do not want to stay married anymore, but you do not hate each other. You want to “uncouple” without emptying your bank accounts to pay for a nasty, litigious divorce. 

It is possible to get a divorce in North Carolina without going broke and without dragging each other through the mud. You will need to live apart from your spouse for at least one year before the court will finalize the divorce, but people getting contested divorces have to comply with that rule, also.

If you and your spouse do not have any disputes about getting a divorce, how to distribute the marital and separate debts and assets, how much child or spousal support will get paid and by whom, and the custody arrangements for the children, you could get an uncontested divorce. If you resolve all of these issues between yourselves without having to get a judge involved in deciding any of those topics, you will save yourselves a lot of money.

Unfortunately, what started as an uncontested divorce could shift gears and become a contested divorce, if the parties change their minds or develop disputes about any of the issues. A common trigger for that shift is when one spouse learns that the other spouse is seeing someone else. When disputes develop, the divorce follows a different path, the process of a contested divorce. 

Contested Divorce in a Nutshell

No matter how much one party wants an uncontested divorce, just like doing the tango, it takes two to have an uncontested divorce. If your spouse finds your terms unreasonable, insists upon other terms, or just wants to make your life miserable while they still can, you will not enjoy the benefits of an uncontested divorce.

Contested divorce is more stressful and expensive than uncontested divorce. Also, contested divorces take longer because of the need to get hearings scheduled and eventually go to trial. 

Divorce Mediation

Some people with contested divorces turn to mediation to try to resolve at least some of the disputed topics. Mediation can be useful, even in cases in which the divorce does not settle, because the process of mediation requires both spouses to hear both sides of all the issues. Sometimes, an angry or bitter spouse stopped listening or communicating years ago, but they might listen to a neutral third party, the mediator. 

If working with a mediator or having the attorneys negotiate among themselves resolves all outstanding issues, the divorce can become uncontested. If that happens, the attorneys can draft the settlement agreement, proposed decree of dissolution, parenting plan, and other necessary paperwork required by the court. Divorce is one of the most common reasons why people in America have long-term financial setbacks. With so much at stake about your children and your financial future, you will want to talk to a North Carolina family law attorney about your divorce. Contact our office today for help with your case, we offer a free consultation.