Contested divorce can be described as a process where both parties may want the divorce, but cannot agree on all the issues necessary in order for a divorce to be entered such as: child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. Sometimes one spouse does not want the divorce, but a divorce will happen if pushed for by either spouse. Every divorce, contested or uncontested, begins with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Every divorce ends with a court date, either a “prove up” or a ruling for a judge. In the interim the lawyers and spouses attempt to settle their case and may have interim or temporary hearings on issues with the Judge before case is finalized. This process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. There are many variables to how long a divorce will take to be resolved.
The Term Contested Divorce Can Mean One of Two Things
Contested divorce can describe a divorce where one party is arguing the other doesn't have grounds for divorce and attempts to prevent the divorce; the divorce, itself, is being contested. More commonly, the term is used to describe the divorce process where both parties want divorce but can't agree on issues like child custody, child and spousal support and property division. Every divorce, contested or uncontested, begins with filing a divorce petition and service of process on the spouse who didn't file the petition. If there are contested issues, one of the divorce lawyers may request a hearing. The hearing may be requested at the same time the divorce petition is filed or at a later date.
Temporary Orders in Contested
Depending on the case, the attorney may request a hearing to establish temporary orders. The purpose of the temporary hearing is to establish orders that will remain in effect until the divorce is final. A contested divorce case may take months or longer to complete - life doesn't stand still during that time. Someone must care for the children, pay bills and maintain property. Temporary orders may be entered by agreement or established at a contested hearing. If a contested hearing is necessary, both spouses will have the opportunity to present a limited amount of evidence to help the divorce court decide on how to rule on short-term issues. Temporary orders remain in effect until either the final divorce decree is entered or a party moves to modify and the judge grants that motion.
During the Pending Divorce
While a divorce is pending, each spouse's attorney may request discovery from the other spouse. This may include income records, deeds or titles to property, business account records, credit card bills and other spending records, proposed witness lists and almost anything else that may relate to the financial, custody, and visitation issues in a divorce case. At the same time, the court may require the parties to attend divorce mediation, custody mediation or other programs designed to help with the divorce process and prevent stress on children.
Settlement or Trial
A divorce cases ends with either an agreed settlement or the case proceeding to trial in front of a judge and the judge rules on the contested issues. Less than 2% of all the cases filed in Cook County make it to a contested divorce trial.
An uncontested divorce offers a faster, less expensive option for the dissolving of your marriage. If you and your spouse unquestionably agree about how you will deal with property and debt division, maintenance payments and child custody and support (if applicable), you may be able to divorce without going to trial. Uncontested divorces often move more quickly through the courts than contested divorces, and you may also qualify for a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. A case can only be considered “uncontested” if both parties agree on all the issues and don’t need the assistance of a judge to rule or aid their case in any way.
A divorce can also be considered uncontested if you are unable to locate your spouse after a diligent search or if they reside out of state or the country and cannot be personally served with divorce petition after unsuccessfully attempting to do so.