Divorce proceedings are linked inexorably in the public imagination with bitter, vitriolic court battles over ownership of the house, custody of the children and alimony payments. However, despite this image's pervasiveness of this image, it is largely untrue for modern divorces. While many contested divorces can end in acrimonious court battles, this form of divorce makes up only 5% of modern divorces. Uncontested settlements - in which the couples come up with their own agreement without the courts - make up the other 95%.
If you're considering ending your marriage, it can be beneficial to understand the differences between contested and uncontested divorces. Knowing what separates the two and the realities you face when you file for divorce can be crucially important.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the courts never have to get involved, because the spouses are able to come to an agreement themselves concerning:
· Division of property
· Child custody arrangements
· The amount to be paid in spousal support (alimony)
· The amount to be paid for child support
The divorcing couple then presents the agreement to a judge. If the judge believes that the arrangements are fair and equitable, and have been signed and agreed to freely and without duress, then the divorce is finalized. While lawyers technically aren't necessary, it may be a good idea for both spouses to be represented by attorneys, who can ensure that everything is done legally and in both people's best interests.
A contested divorce is one in which the spouses are unable to come to an agreement on their own, and need the courts to intervene to come to a decision. These divorces can be difficult in a different way than uncontested divorces: while it may be difficult to work out an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it may be even more difficult to go through the process of battling them in court.
If you can't work out your differences with your spouse, expect to go through the court battles that go along with a contested divorce. It is often a good idea to engage the services of an experienced divorce attorney, as the process may get acrimonious.
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