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What is the Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce?


When you are considering divorce in Florida, you may already know that you and your spouse are likely to have a contentious divorce proceeding in which it is difficult to reach an agreement about anything. Or, perhaps, you have been discussing the possibility of divorce with your spouse, and you already know that the two of you likely will agree to most terms of the divorce. Given that many divorce cases fall somewhere in between those two scenarios, it is important for anyone who is considering divorce to understand the difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce. Both types of divorces are governed by the Florida Statutes, but the difference can affect the length of time that your divorce takes, as well as other significant issues.

Uncontested Divorce When Both Parties Agree to Everything 

An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both of the parties agree to all terms. This means that the parties agree to a particular plan for property division, and they agree as to whether alimony will be paid along with the amount of alimony. If there are minor children from the marriage, an uncontested divorce can only occur when the parties agree to all issues concerning their children. Not only will both parents have to agree to child support amounts, but the parents also will need to agree to parental responsibilities, including how the parents will share the responsibilities of making important decisions about the child’s upbringing and how the parents will share in providing day-to-day care for the child.

With an uncontested divorce, the time length of the divorce typically is much shorter than if you have a contested divorce. Florida law requires a 20-day waiting period from the time that the petition for the dissolution of marriage is filed to a hearing to finalize the divorce. Even if you have minor children from your marriage, with an uncontested divorce, your divorce can be finalized within just a few weeks after you file.

Uncontested Divorce is Not the Same as a Simplified Divorce

It is important to understand that an uncontested divorce is not the same thing as a simplified divorce in Florida. While both are much quicker options for having a divorce finalized, a simplified divorce, or a simplified dissolution of marriage, is only available under certain circumstances. As the Florida courts explains, to have a simplified divorce, all of the following must be true:

  • Both parties agree that the marriage cannot be saved;
  • Parties do not have minor children from the marriage, and the wife is not pregnant;
  • Parties agree to all division of assets and liabilities;
  • Neither party is seeking alimony from the other party;
  • Both parties are willing to give up their rights to trial and appeal;
  • Both parties are willing to sign the petition at the clerk’s office; and
  • Both parties are willing to appear at the final hearing.

Contested Divorce When Parties Cannot Agree to All Terms 

Unlike an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce is one in which the parties do not agree to all terms of the divorce. This situation can range from the parties disagreeing about all aspects of the divorce, to the parties agreeing to nearly all but one of the terms of the divorce.

In some cases, it may be possible to work with your lawyer to turn what would be a contested divorce into an uncontested divorce through negotiation.

Contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney 

Do you have questions about uncontested and contested divorce, or about a simplified divorce? You should speak with an Orlando contested divorce lawyer today. Contact Anderson & Ferrin to learn more about how we can help with your case.



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