What is the difference between Uncontested and Contested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce and a contested divorce are two distinct approaches to ending a marriage, differing in how spouses resolve their issues and whether they require court intervention. Here are the key differences:

Uncontested Divorce:

Definition: An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both spouses agree on all key issues related to the divorce, such as the division of assets and debts, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support (alimony). They have reached a mutual agreement on these matters.

Mutual Agreement: In an uncontested divorce, both spouses work together to create a divorce settlement agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of their divorce. This agreement is typically drafted with the assistance of attorneys or through mediation.

Minimal Court Involvement: Since the spouses have already agreed on all divorce-related issues, an uncontested divorce typically involves minimal court intervention. The court’s role is mainly to review and approve the divorce settlement agreement.

Faster and Cost-Effective: Uncontested divorces are generally faster and less expensive than contested divorces because they do not require protracted court proceedings or extensive legal battles.

Amicable Resolution: Uncontested divorces often result from amicable and cooperative efforts between spouses, which can lead to a more peaceful divorce process and better post-divorce relations.

Contested Divorce:

Definition: A contested divorce is a divorce in which spouses are unable to reach an agreement on one or more key issues, leading to disputes that must be resolved through court proceedings.

Disagreements: In a contested divorce, spouses have significant disagreements on issues such as property division, child custody, visitation schedules, child support, or alimony. They are unable to agree on the terms of their divorce.

Court Intervention: In a contested divorce, the court plays a more substantial role in resolving disputes. The judge may hold hearings, receive evidence, and make decisions on behalf of the spouses when they cannot reach an agreement.

Lengthy and Costly: Contested divorces tend to be longer and more expensive than uncontested divorces due to the need for legal representation, court appearances, and the time required to litigate the issues in dispute.

Emotional Strain: Contested divorces can be emotionally draining for both spouses and can lead to increased conflict and tension.

Outcome Uncertainty: In a contested divorce, the final outcome of the divorce is uncertain, as it depends on the judge’s decisions. Spouses may have less control over the terms of their divorce.


The primary difference between uncontested and contested divorces lies in the level of agreement between spouses. In an uncontested divorce, spouses have reached a mutual agreement on all divorce-related issues, making it a more straightforward and efficient process. In contrast, a contested divorce involves disputes and disagreements that require court intervention, leading to a more complex, time-consuming, and costly divorce process.  For all your family law requirements, reach out to Dreyer Law today.

Please remember, this article is merely meant for guidance and information purposes. It is NOT intended as legal advice nor does it establish attorney/client relationship or privilege.