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Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce: What Are The Differences?

In Michigan, your divorce can be one of two things: uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce happens when one spouse files for divorce (the plaintiff), and the other party (the defendant) does not answer. An uncontested divorce can also take place if one spouse files for divorce and the other spouse cannot be located.

A contested divorce happens when one spouse files for divorce, and the other spouse answers or challenges the summons and “complaint.” After receiving the answer or challenge, the person who filed for divorce (the plaintiff) will then subpoena financial records, and a deposition will take place.

It is possible for a divorce proceeding to begin as contested, but after negotiation and agreement between the spouses and their attorneys end up as uncontested.

Should You File For An Uncontested Or Contested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce may make sense if both spouses agree to the divorce and all of the significant issues. Couples without children who have been married fewer than five years and who do not own a business are typically good candidates for an uncontested divorce.

Many times a couple can, each with the help of a lawyer, create a written agreement. The divorce will move forward, and no court will be necessary if the couple can agree to:

  • Who gets what
  • How to pay off bills and debts
  • Child custody arrangement
  • How much will be paid in child support
  • How much alimony will be paid

In a divorce with kids, couples must meet with the friend of the court (FOC). Financial information will be required so that child support and alimony payments can be reviewed.

A contested divorce can happen if one or both spouses cannot agree to the major issues. Contested divorces are often the path for spouses who are in relationships where there is an imbalance of power.

For example, one spouse may feel they have been manipulated or abused during the marriage. Or, a spouse may think that they will not receive what is fair and equitable after initial discussions about the divorce. It may also be that one spouse feels very strongly about a significant aspect of the divorce, whereas the other spouse doesn’t feel the same.

Contested divorces have more steps and can take longer and cost more than uncontested divorces. Some of the additional steps include discovery/information gathering, the deposition of witnesses, filing for pretrial motions and hearings, and going to court for trial. Sometimes, if one or both spouses do not like the judge’s ruling or feel issues have not been resolved satisfactorily, there will be an appeal.

Work With An Attorney Who Will Advocate For You

No matter which path you take to end your marriage, it’s important to understand the steps involved and know your options. It’s also important to have the support and guidance you need. At Gormley Law Offices, PLC, we offer calm, levelheaded counsel. We will ensure that your rights are protected and your needs respected.

Call 517-219-9301 or send a brief email about your issue, and we will reach out to you. We represent clients in Brighton, Howell and communities throughout Livingston County.