Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Arizona


Divorce is an unfortunate reality that many couples have to face. Depending on your circumstances, the options available to you will vary. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are parting on good terms and you know you both can work through the details of the divorce peacefully, then you will likely face an uncontested divorce. However, if you know that there will be details and decisions regarding the divorce and the related outcomes that your spouse will fight you on and an agreement will not be easy, then you will likely be facing a contested divorce. Each type of divorce has its own difficulties, but a contested divorce will be timelier and more expensive. Having an amicable divorce is preferable as it makes it easier for everyone, but coming to an agreement on all of the decisions that need to be made regarding to the divorce can be difficult, even for couple separating on good terms.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is much faster and simpler than a contested divorce. To file for an uncontested divorce, you must agree to ALL of the terms and conditions of the divorce. If you cannot agree on even one of the terms, then the divorce will be considered a contested divorce. To be an uncontested divorce, a couple must agree to terms without going to court. Some couples hire a mediator in order to reach an agreement before going to court. Some main items that an agreement needs to be made on are:

  • The division of property, assets, and debts
  • Custody of the children
  • Child support
  • Spousal maintenance

These decisions are obviously very important and thus have the potential to be very difficult to agree to the terms. Having an attorney that is your advocate in this situation will be helpful because they can help you determine the agreement you are willing to agree to and assist you in deciding which items you are willing to compromise on in order to get the things you are not willing to give up. This can be a delicate situation and having someone guiding you through the process can help to make it a smoother process and can help you avoid going to court and having to pay court fees and extend the time it takes for the divorce to be final.

Contested Divorce

 A contested divorce is a more complicated and expensive process, however sometimes it is unavoidable. As the decisions involved are very personal, this can be an emotional situation. With emotions high, this can lead to rash decisions and cause more complications in an already difficult situation. In a contested divorce, an experienced divorce attorney is vital. Your attorney will be able to guide the situation and ensure that your opinions and demands are heard.

In a contested divorce, both sides will typically have their own counsel, and will try to reach an agreement outside of court. This process will include the exchange of all relevant information, including: income statement, bills, debts, bank account information, etc. Your attorneys will use the information to help you determine what a fair agreement will be and come up with a plan for your negotiations. After the exchange of information, you will be involved in mediation and hearings to try and reach an agreement and keep the court informed of your progress.

Mediation is used in most divorces in order to attempt to reach an agreement without taking the divorce to court. In mediation, an objective third-party mediator will guide a discussion about the issues at hand and help the couple to reach an agreement. Mediation is a cheaper option for a resolution than court. This gives incentives to couples to solve their issues outside of court and find an agreement that they are both okay with before involving the court. However, if you are unable to reach an agreement in mediation then your divorce will go to court.

Taking a divorce to court will increase the time before your divorce is finalized and an agreement is made; it will also increase the cost of your divorce. The family court system is notoriously slow; your court dates will be scheduled based on court availability– this means it could be months before your case is even seen in court.

From a cost standpoint, statistically, an uncontested divorce costs each spouse between $1,500-$3,000, whereas a contested divorce that goes to court will cost each spouse between $8,000-$30,000. Uncontested divorces are usually resolved and finalized within 3 – 4 months, but again, the actual length depends on many factors involved with the family and marriage. A contested divorce can take much longer than the 3 – 4 months. In fact, if the spouses can’t agree on the terms of their divorce, they can go to court, which usually adds 6 – 9 months to the duration of the divorce.

If this is where your divorce ends up, don’t be discouraged—if you have the right attorney on your side then your interests will be protected. An experienced divorce attorney will know how to argue for your cause and help you get the outcome you are looking for. At JacksonWhite  our family law tam has over 15 years of experience assisting clients through both contested and uncontested divorces. If you are facing a divorce, don’t think you need to go through this alone. Let our team help you.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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