Published On: March 27, 2023

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce: What Is the Difference?

Each divorce case is unique. While some cases can be handled amicably through the cooperative efforts of the couple, some can be emotionally charged due to the couple’s personal circumstances. In New York, divorce laws allow for two types of divorce: contested and uncontested. The type of divorce you get depends on whether you and your spouse can work through your differences and agree on the major concerns of your divorce without needing court intervention. 

Top-rated New York City divorce attorney Ryan Besinque has successfully guided numerous couples through the potentially overwhelming divorce process in New York. We understand the emotional toll a drawn out divorce can have on the whole family. We strive to provide quality legal advice and representation to pursue your and your family’s best interest. To learn more about how we can help you, contact The Law Office of Ryan Besinque today at (929) 251-4477 to schedule a free consultation.

Definition of Uncontested and Contested Divorce

In simple terms, an uncontested divorce is one in which the couple can agree on the major concerns of their divorce and only need mediation or minimal court intervention. Conversely, a contested divorce is a divorce in which the couple has one or more points of contention regarding the terms of their marriage’s dissolution. 

When a couple divorces in New York, they need to have an understanding of the major aspects of the separation. As much as a marriage is a romantic union, it is also a legal and financial relationship. The couple needs to come to an agreement on what they should do in terms of asset and liability distribution, child custody and support, if alimony or spousal support should be provided, and other such issues. If the couple cannot come to a consensus either through mediation or negotiation, the court would have to intervene and the case would need to undergo divorce litigation.

A contested divorce can also happen when one of the spouses does not want the divorce to push through. There is also the chance of an initially uncontested divorce becoming contested depending on the relationship and the circumstances of the couple as they go through the divorce. When this happens, the couple would need to go to court and present their cases before a judge who will make the determination on the aspects of the divorce on the couple’s behalf.

Regardless of the type of your divorce, working with an experienced Manhattan divorce attorney is important in making sure that your rights are protected and that your best interests are represented. Our team of legal professionals at The Law Office of Ryan Besinque can assist you both in divorce mediation and litigation. Contact us today at (929) 251-4477.

Key Differences between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

There are a few crucial differences between contested and uncontested divorces other than the ability of the couple to cooperate.

The Complexity of the Case

Divorce litigation requires more legal assistance than uncontested divorces mainly due to the number of hearings, different depositions, and other legal procedures that are needed to be accomplished in order to get a decree from the court.

Another legal difference between the types of divorce is that marital agreements that are borne from an uncontested divorce negotiation or mediation are unappealable once a judge has ordered a judgment of divorce. This is due to the fact that the court considers the agreement final and binding as the couple themselves have agreed to the terms of the agreement. It may still be appealable or be modified depending on the circumstances of the case but in the majority of cases, the marital settlement agreement will become final once the judgment is given.

In a contested divorce, it is more common for judgment orders to be appealable as they are determinations made by a judge. Before the court issues a judgment in divorce litigation, however, it is highly recommended that they bring any pertinent matters to light as appeals can prolong the process which leads us to the next point.

How Long the Divorce Takes

In New York, an uncontested divorce can take anywhere from three months to six months depending on how fast the settlement agreement can be drafted and how long mediation could take. Factors that can prolong an uncontested divorce can include whether the couple has any children and if they have a lot of complex assets that need to be distributed.

Due to the backlog of the courts, a contested divorce can usually take longer, from around nine months to a year. It can take longer depending on the grounds on which the divorce was filed. If the grounds involve domestic violence or abuse, the divorce can take a longer time to conclude as the court will need to cross-examine and investigate the allegations carefully before making a decision.

How Much the Divorce Costs

Owing to the complexity and length of time it can take, contested divorces are also more expensive than uncontested divorces. The difference mainly comes from additional court and lawyer fees that couples undergoing contested divorce would have to pay. There may also be instances wherein one party would hire an investigator to uncover inconsistencies about their partner such as irregular financial activity or adultery.

Meanwhile, those undergoing an uncontested divorce may only have to pay for the cost of filing the documents, some nominal fees for service of the divorce papers, and some court fees for certifying the judgment order. 

If you are considering a divorce and are concerned with the potential costs of filing, consulting a skilled attorney is advisable. An attorney may be able to walk you through the different processes involved and inform you about any expenses you can expect to incur.

Emotional Toll

While the other factors have been focused on the material and legal differences between contested and uncontested divorces, it’s important to remember that a divorce can also take an emotional toll on the parties involved.

Contested divorces can be emotionally draining and mentally challenging for everyone involved. Uncontested divorces involve a degree of compromise from both sides. In a contested divorce, communication between the couple could have diminished to the point wherein each has become unwilling to cooperate and unyielding. The longer the divorce is drawn out, the more frustration and anxiety could build not only for the couple but also for their family. 

When emotions run high during a contested divorce, it may be helpful to hire an attorney who can act as an objective advocate who can help you navigate the legal processes involved. Enlisting professional help through counseling and therapy can also help even in an uncontested divorce. The process of divorce is a period of transition and can easily become confusing and overwhelming. Your and your family’s well-being must be your first priority. 

Which type of divorce you choose should depend on you and your spouse’s relationship. Whether you go for a contested or an uncontested divorce should depend on your individual circumstances. This can be a hard decision to make but one that you can overcome with the help and advice of an experienced Manhattan divorce attorney.

Our team of skilled legal professionals at The Law Office of Ryan Besinque has dedicated their careers to providing competent legal assistance and representation to New York residents going through a divorce. We understand the impact and how a divorce can affect a family and work diligently to provide our clients with the best possible outcome with the least amount of heartbreak. You don’t have to face this alone. Contact us today at (929) 251-4477 to schedule a consultation.

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