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Understanding Contested Divorces: What Sets Them Apart From Uncontested Divorces

Understanding Contested Divorces: What Sets Them Apart from Uncontested Divorces

When the difficult decision to divorce is made, understanding the road ahead is crucial for anyone looking to minimize stress and ensure a fair outcome. For those in Virginia Beach, choosing the right divorce attorney is a pivotal first step. This post walks through the key differences between contested and uncontested divorces, helping you understand which path might be right for you and how professional legal aid can guide you through this challenging time.

Defining Contested and Uncontested Divorces

Before we deep-dive into the specificities, it’s essential to establish clear definitions:

  • Uncontested Divorce: Both parties agree on all major issues, including asset distribution, debt responsibility, child custody, and support arrangements. This mutual agreement paves the way for a relatively straightforward legal process.
  • Contested Divorce: Disagreements on one or more key issues prevent the couple from reaching a mutual decision, necessitating legal intervention to resolve these disputes.

Requirements and Process for Each

The requirements for filing either type of divorce vary by state, but typically involve residency stipulations and potentially a separation period. In Virginia Beach, the process is further defined by whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

Uncontested Divorce Process:

  1. Filing a Complaint: Starts with one spouse filing with the court.
  2. Serving the Complaint: The other spouse is served and has the chance to respond.
  3. Signing an Agreement: Both parties craft and sign an agreement resolving all issues.
  4. Finalizing the Divorce: The court reviews the agreement, and if everything is in order, the divorce is finalized.

Contested Divorce Process:

  1. Filing and Service: Similar initial steps as an uncontested divorce.
  2. Discovery: Each party investigates the other’s claims and assets.
  3. Negotiations: Efforts are made to settle disputes.
  4. Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the court will schedule a trial.
  5. Judgment: The judge makes the final decisions on all contested issues.

Key Differences

The key differences between these two types of divorces primarily revolve around:

  • Cost: Contested divorces are significantly more expensive due to court fees, attorney fees, and the length of time the process takes.
  • Time: An uncontested divorce can be resolved quickly, sometimes in a matter of months, while a contested divorce can last a year or longer.
  • Emotional Toll: Contested divorces often come with a higher emotional strain due to the adversarial process and uncertainty.

The Role of a Divorce Attorney

Regardless of the type of divorce, having the right Virginia Beach divorce attorney can significantly impact both the process and the outcome. A skilled attorney can help negotiate favorable terms, represent you in court if necessary, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

Planning for the Future

Whether facing a contested or uncontested divorce, it’s crucial to plan for the future. Gathering financial documents, considering the needs of children involved, and setting realistic goals for post-divorce life are all vital steps.


Understanding the differences between contested and uncontested divorces can guide you towards the best approach for your situation. Whatever path you find yourself on, remember that professional legal advice is invaluable. If you’re in Virginia Beach and facing the prospect of divorce, Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. offers the expertise and support you need. Reach out by calling (757) 962-5588 to explore how we can assist you through this challenging time.

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