Divorce in California: Contested vs. Uncontested

If you watch enough Court TV, you can’t be blamed for assuming that filing for divorce in California is a drawn-out, expensive, and stressful process. While this certainly can happen (Rosendale vs. Rosendale took 12 years to resolve), it’s not the norm. 

There are two types of divorce in California: contested and uncontested. Below is an overview of the main differences between these two dissolution options and how they can affect the cost and duration of your legal proceedings.

Contested Divorce

With a contested divorce, you and your spouse disagree on one or more of the major issues that need to be resolved. They include child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and the division of marital property and obligations. 

For example, if you agree on how you will share custody and split the marital estate but your spouse is unwilling to pay support until you can become financially self-sufficient, your divorce becomes contested and the support question will have to be litigated.

While sometimes necessary, contested divorce has disadvantages that include:

  • Loss of control over the outcome. When you can’t reach your own agreement, the court will determine who gets what marital property and/or order a custody arrangement that it believes to be in the best interests of your children.
  • Your divorce takes longer to complete, and legal costs are consequently higher.

While judges try to be as fair as possible when reaching decisions that affect your family and your future, a contested divorce can lead to an outcome that neither of you are happy with. You and your spouse should try to negotiate your disagreements before turning to the court.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are more straightforward and cost-effective. If you and your spouse agree on child custody and support, property division, and other essential matters related to the divorce, they result in an outcome that will satisfy both of you.

Although less complicated than a contested divorce, under some circumstances an uncontested divorce can be inappropriate. If your marriage was affected by domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or you believe that your spouse may be hiding income or assets, an experienced California divorce attorney will protect your best interests and those of your children.

At Carroll Law Office, we understand that ending your marriage is one of the most difficult personal challenges you will ever face. When you’re worried about how divorce will affect your financial well-being and relationship with your children, we will help you make decisions that can result in the best outcome for you and your loved ones. If you have questions or are ready to file for divorce, please contact Carroll Law Office for legal representation you can trust.