One question I receive often is what is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce. The following chart diagrams the difference between the two types of divorces:
|CONTESTED DIVORCE||UNCONTESTED DIVORCE|
|A summons and complaint for divorce is filed with the court.||A summons and complaint for divorce is filed with the court.|
|The opposing party is served with the summons and complaint for divorce||The opposing party is served with the summons and complaint for divorce.|
|The opposing party may file an answer to the complaint for divorce.||The opposing party may file an answer to the complaint for divorce.|
|The affidavit of service is filed with the court showing that the opposing party was served with the complaint for divorce.||The affidavit of service is filed with the court showing that the opposing party was served with the complaint for divorce.|
|The court sets a scheduling conference – This hearing is where the court sets dates for mediation and discovery.||The court sets a scheduling conference – This hearing is where the court sets dates for mediation and discovery.|
|Discovery is exchanged – discovery is a process in which each party asks the other for documents. These documents include, but are not limited to: deeds, titles, registrations, appraisals, life insurance policies, retirement account information, credit card and other indebtedness, paystubs, tax returns, business documents (if one party owns a business), and any other documents specific to the parties.||The parties work together to craft the terms of their judgment of divorce. These will include provisions for custody, parenting time, division of real and personal property division of assets and debts, and any other provisions specifically related to the parties’ divorce.|
|Mediation is held – mediation is a process wherein the parties meet with a third-party neutral trained in domestic relations mediation. The mediator assists the parties in reaching an agreement. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case moves forward in the court.||Once the parties reach an agreement, and after the statutory time has lapsed, a final hearing is set and held and the parties are now divorced.|
|The court sets a settlement conference –A settlement conference is a hearing where the court meets with the attorneys and parties to address the outstanding issues and see if settlement can be reached.|
|If the parties are unable to reach an agreement at the settlement conference, the case is set for trial.|
|Trial is held wherein both parties present testimony to the judge. The judge reviews the testimony and makes the final decision on the outstanding matters.|
|A judgment of divorce is drafted to comport with the judge’s ruling, the judge reviews and signs the judgment of divorce and the parties are now divorced.|
As you can see, a contested divorce is a much lengthier process, and more costly and time consuming. A contested divorce puts all of the control of the outcome of the parties’ divorce into the hands of the judge. An uncontested divorce allows the parties to maintain total control of the outcome. When parties are able to reach an agreement through an uncontested process, they are more satisfied with the results, and rarely need to return to court for post-divorce matters.
For more information about how an uncontested divorce can work for you, contact me, Laurie Schmitt, Attorney at Law, at Schmitt Law, PLLC, by calling 616-608-4634.