The Differences between Contested and Uncontested Divorces

Contested v. Uncontested Divorces

We receive a lot of questions about what it means to have a contested versus an uncontested divorce. Here are some answers. First, the Virginia statutes do not use the terms “contested” or “uncontested.” The statues set out the basis for which someone can request a divorce and the procedures for getting a divorce. The terms “contested” and “uncontested” are how the courts who grant divorces have grouped the cases. For example, the Chesapeake Circuit Court has a manual for both contested and uncontested divorces.

When the parties of the divorce have agreed on all matters brought up by the divorce, the divorce is “uncontested”. The general items addressed in a divorce are:

  • Grounds for Divorce
  • Division of all marital property and debt
  • Spousal support
  • Custody and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Attorney’s Fees

While the list above are the general issues in a divorce, that does not mean settling those issues is easy. If, however, spouses do reach an agreement, then they may proceed with an “uncontested” divorce. In this instance, none of the issues in their divorce are contested. On the other hand, if one of the issues above (or all of them or some of them) cannot be agreed on by the parties to a divorce, then the divorce is “contested.” In this instance, the parties must proceed on the contested track set forth by the Court.

These terms have nothing to do with whether only one party wants a divorce or both parties want a divorce. Even if both parties want a divorce, the matter remains contested so long as there remain issues of the divorce on which the parties do not agree. Whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, we can help you move forward through it. If you have further questions, give us a call to schedule a consultation.

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