From the perspective of attorneys, judges, and the court system, An uncontested divorce is one in which all of the areas of dispute between the spouses are resolved and the task of the court is solely to grant a divorce and incorporate the parties’ agreement into the final judgment. A contested divorce is one in which there remain areas of dispute unresolved by the spouses. For example, although both parties may want the divorce, the divorce is considered contested if there are still disputes over what time the children should spend with each parent; or if the spouses have not reached a final agreement on the amount or length of alimony; or if there remain disputes over distribution of property or debt (i.e., who should get which property and/or how much the spouse retaining a particular asset (such as a pension or 401(k) plan or IRA or the home or the contents or a vehicle or bank or investment account) owes the other spouse. Contested divorces are presumed by the court system to need a trial to resolve the contested “issues;” uncontested divorces are ones in which the court understands all “issues” have been to be resolved so that only a short, uncontested hearing is necessary in order for the court in court to dissolve the marriage is all that is needed and to conclude the divorce proceeding.
Gary Borger, family lawyer and mediator, is a partner in the firm of Borger Jones Matez & Keeley-Cain, P.A. located in Cherry Hill, NJ.