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The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on June 21, 2016

If you are experiencing difficulties or irreconcilable differences with your spouse and you ultimately decide to end your marriage, you can dissolve your marriage through an uncontested or contested divorce. Here are the differences between the two types of divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, the couple either (1) does not have assets or children that must be arranged for or (2) has come to an agreement on how to handle assets or children. Uncontested divorces are often more amicable, and the couple is able to agree on how to wrap up their affairs. If the couple has no property or children, there is nothing for them to fight over. The couple simply wants to end their marriage.

Likewise, if the couple has property or children, they may mutually agree on arrangements through a marital settlement agreement, marital property agreement, child custody agreement, or some other agreement. The agreement will set forth which property goes to which spouse, as well as the type of custody, visitation schedule, child support payments, and more.

The couple then files for an uncontested divorce with the Pennsylvania family court. The couple usually undergoes just one hearing before receiving a final order.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is often complex, messy, and disputed. The couple may battle over property, alimony, child custody, visitation, or child support. Other times, the couple may agree to equally share community/marital property but may not agree on how to share it. For instance, if the couple owns a house together, does each spouse share the house? Do they sell the house and split the proceeds? Does one spouse buy the other spouse’s share and live in the house alone? Contested divorces require judicial oversight because the parties are unable to compromise and agree.

Often times, at the outset of the divorce case, the judge will order mediation, at which the parties will meet in the presence of a court-appointed mediator and attempt to come to some sort of agreement. If mediation fails and the parties do not settle, the couple then proceeds to trial. At a divorce trial, the spouses may present evidence and make arguments. The judge will ultimately decide which property is marital property, how to divide it, and how to ensure that the child custody and support situation is in the best interests of the child.

Protect Your Assets and Your Family with an Experienced Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer

Whether you believe that you may be able to amicably agree with your former spouse on how to handle property or children or whether you wish to fight your former spouse, you need the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Call us today at (610) 645-0100 for a free consultation.

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