How Do Contested and Uncontested Divorce Differ in California?

When a couple makes the decision to get divorced, the very first choice they must consider is if they can come to an agreement on terms or pursue a contested divorce in court. This includes asset and debt splitting, child support and custody and whatever other property they have to divide. 

In the state of California, if the couple is able to work together and come to an agreement about asset splitting, then their agreement is said to be uncontested and will result in a much shorter, less intense affair when it comes to attorneys, the court and figuring out who gets what. If the couple cannot agree, then it will be moved to the contested category and a whole new set of actions begin.

Because going through a divorce can be much more difficult than many think, it is not uncommon for uncontested decisions to become contested in the blink of an eye. Because of this, it is good to have the help of a skilled California divorce attorney, as well as know more about the terms, yourself. This article will explain the main differences between the two options and discuss how they can affect the cost and duration of the divorce and its proceedings. 

Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorces

On the surface, both of these types of divorces seem quite simple and in some cases, they can be quite cut and dry. Most times, though, high emotions, complicated assets and child custody disagreements can get in the way of an uncontested divorce.This is why it is especially important to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side throughout the process. 

An uncontested divorce means that both parties have agreed to all the aspects of their asset divisions and separation before going to court and getting the divorce filed and going before the judge.

A contested divorce means that neither party can agree on terms, and must have their case mediated or heard by a judge in court. Court hearings and trials are needed in the cases where the parties cannot agree on terms of divorce. It is definitely advised to get a divorce attorney to help protect you and your assets, such as:

  • Child custody and child support
  • Division of property 
  • Division of assets
  • Debts
  • Alimony/spousal support

Uncontested Divorce

Since an uncontested divorce means both parties agree to their own stipulations, it’s a much simpler process. The divorce is agreed upon and mostly done out of court. With an uncontested divorce, you rarely even go in front of a judge unless children and child custody is involved. If children are involved, the court will usually refer the case to mediation for custody arrangements and child support agreements. 

Uncontested divorces work best for:

  • Couples who have little to no assets and no children
  • Couples who agree amicably on how to divide their assets, who will have legal and physical custody of any children they may have, as well as how much child support is appropriate.

Contested Divorce

The more common of the two options, a contested divorce is when both parties cannot agree on the more major issues of finalizing the divorce, be it child custody, division of assets and property or spousal support. Uncontested decisions can become contested if one or more of these becomes non-negotiable in the eyes of either party. That is why getting quality legal representation for a contested divorce is incredibly helpful and necessary for the next steps. 

The drawbacks of contested divorces can include:

  • Loss of control over the outcome of the divorce. When you can’t come to an agreement with your partner, the court will determine who gets what and the custody of the children based on information the other party brings to the court and what the judge deems most appropriate for the children. 
  • The divorce will take longer to finalize, so the longer the time in court, the higher the legal fees.
  • A contested divorce can end up leaving neither party satisfied, as the judge is the one making the decisions instead of the spouses. 

Azemika & Azemika Law is on Your Side

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time. If you are trying to settle outside of court, make sure both party’s attorneys are aware of that. However, if there are issues that the two of you can’t agree on, you may need to get the courts involved. 

The lawyers at Azemika & Azemika have a combined total of over 56 years handling family law cases. This expertise allows our dedicated team to customize each situation to fit our clients’ specific needs. As our client, we will keep you informed on the status of your case, allowing you to make informed decisions as your case progresses.

Let the team at Azemika & Azemika help set you on a path to a better post-divorce future.  Contact us today for a consultation.