Contested divorces are those in which the spouses disagree on one or more issues, such as:
- allegations stated in the grounds for divorce,
- parenting time (visitation),
- child support,
- equitable distribution (splitting of assets and/or debts), or
- other matters.
After both Plaintiff and Defendant have filed their papers with the court, court staff will schedule any necessary conferences or other court events such as:
- Case management conferences
- Custody and parenting time mediation
- Parent Education Workshop
- Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel and/or Economic Mediation
- Discovery, which is the exchange of documents and information that the parties will use in court
The goal of these court events is to give the couple opportunities to settle as many issues between themselves as possible, rather than having the judge decide each issue. Couples are encouraged to try to develop a joint property settlement agreement if at all possible.
Court staff will advise when additional paperwork is required, such as a:
- Case Information Statement, which has details about assets, liabilities, income, and expenses; or
- Custody/Parenting Time Plan, for cases with children.
Contested Divorce Timeline and Costs
Depending on how complex and contested the divorce is, it could take serval months to complete. The specific timeline depends on factors in each individual case. Similarly, costs will depend on the nature of the case.
For contested divorces, it is recommended that each spouse get their own attorney in order to better understand their rights and responsibilities.
Uncontested divorces are those in which both spouses agree that they want to dissolve their marriage.
In most instances, the court process for uncontested divorces can be completed in a much shorter time than for contested divorces.
To file for an uncontested divorce:
- Plaintiff should notify the court when filing that the divorce is uncontested. All forms and the $300 filing fee are still required.
- Defendant should file an Appearance form stating that the defendant does not contest the divorce, but is prepared to appear before the court on whatever issues the two spouses will be resolving in the divorce. The $175 filing fee is still required.
- The couple will prepare a joint property settlement agreement that includes plans for custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, equitable distribution, and any other financial matters. The agreement must be signed by both parties and notarized. The court will accept the agreement and make it a part of the divorce order when the divorce is granted.