The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

If you’re going through a divorce, a divorce attorney West Chester PA, can support you. Divorce proceedings can be long, challenging, and tiring. It involves lots of decision making to reach an agreement on four issues:

  • Division of assets and debts
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (alimony)

To decide these issues, both spouses have to go through the right legal divorce manner or proceedings. In Pennsylvania, there are two main types of divorce manners that couples employ in dissolving relationships: contested and uncontested divorce.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is when a couple agrees on all issues and terms that’ll apply to their marriage termination. Before filing a divorce, they already have an agreement on the division of assets and custody arrangements.

A judge wouldn’t need to make a decision regarding these issues on their behalf. The process for an uncontested divorce is quicker, amicable, and less financial burdens.

What is a Contested Divorce?

In a contested divorce, both parties are unable to agree by themselves, either on divorcing or on the terms of the divorce. It’s not uncommon for one party to file for a divorce while the other party insists on being married. However, a court will not require two people to stay in a marriage when one person disagrees.

Even when a couple mutually decides to divorce, they may not agree on significant matters, leading to a contested divorce. Contested divorces have to go on trial and present their cases in open court hearings.

Contested VS Uncontested Divorce

One significant difference between contested and uncontested divorce is the time it takes to finalize the process. When both parties agree to the terms of a divorce, it’s only a matter of submitting the right paperwork. In a few months, the entire process will finalize.

In contrast, an uncontested divorce may take longer than two years to finalize. It’s also more expensive as it requires attorneys to file more paperwork. Contested divorces are generally more complex, and the final judgment may not be pleasing to one or both parties. However, it’s the only option when one party is being unreasonable.

When you meet with a divorce attorney in West Chester, PA, you’ll receive guidance on whether you should pursue a contested or an uncontested divorce. Often, spouses begin with a contested divorce, but before the trial, they may work out their disagreements in an uncontested manner.

This scenario is called a settlement, and attorneys for both sides will draw up a legally binding agreement. Once signed, they won’t need to litigate their divorce in court.


If you’re seeking a divorce, you should first attempt to work out the terms with your spouse. You can try other methods like mediation and arbitration if you wish to bypass the lengthy litigation process.

It’s best to hire a divorce attorney in West Chester, PA, as divorce proceedings differ by state.  The uniqueness of each divorce case, such as the presence of children and assets, also makes the process different.