The Difference Between Uncontested Divorce and Contested Divorce

7464489_sThere are two types of divorce in Colorado: uncontested divorce and contested divorce. What are the differences between the two?

 Uncontested Divorce

 An uncontested divorce refers to a divorce in which both parties agree to the divorce and are generally able to arrive at an agreement and who can work out all the issues of the divorce between themselves, with the help of mediation or attorneys, or with the help of divorce lawyers. The court will typically uphold such an agreement and issue the final divorce decree.

This type of divorce not only reduces conflict throughout the divorce process, but often also results in a quicker, easier, and less expensive divorce. In most instances, an uncontested divorce can be settled with minimal courtroom appearances or even no courtroom intervention. The court is highly likely to enforce the agreement between both parties provided the terms appear acceptable and in the best interests of the children.

In Colorado, you are eligible to file an uncontested divorce if you meet the following requirements:

  • You and your spouse meet the minimum residency requirement of 91 days
  • You and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • You and your spouse either have no property to be divided or have agreed on how property is to be divided
  • You and your spouse have no minor children, or if you do have minor children, have signed a child support agreement and have allocated parental responsibility

It is important to note that even if you and your spouse are on good terms and are willing to cooperate with one another through the divorce process, a lawyer’s representation can help see to it that your best interests are protected.

Contested Divorce

 A contested divorce, on the other hand, refers to a divorce where both parties are unable to agree—either about getting a divorce or on the terms of the divorce. These disagreements commonly involve issues on spousal and child support, allocation of parental responsibilities, and the distribution of marital property, assets, and debts. A judge, therefore, needs to be the one to decide on one or more of these disputed issues in court after a permanent orders hearing.

At a final or permanent orders hearing, both parties are able to present documents, evidence, and witnesses to support their respective positions. The hearing can also involve testimony from experts such as investigators and psychologists. Ultimately, however, the judge will make a ruling based on the submitted evidence and his or her determination on the credibility of both parties.

Unlike the ease of an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce can take several months, and is typically seen to be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive process. Having a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney on your side is crucial to ensuring that you obtain the most advantageous outcome possible.