What is the Difference between Contested & Uncontested Divorce?

difference between contested and uncontested divorce

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce

Divorce, also known as the termination of a marriage or marital union, can be an extremely stressful situation.

If you find yourself about to go through the process of divorce, it is crucial to understand the two different types of divorce: contested and uncontested.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is one where both parties agree to the divorce and its terms. There is no need for a court to be involved. An uncontested divorce is usually much quicker, amicable, and less of a burden financially.

Uncontested Divorce in Missouri

Every state has their own set of specific laws regarding divorce.  A divorce in Missouri has two common ways to get an uncontested divorce.

The first way to get an uncontested divorce in Missouri is referred to as default petitioning.

The spouse who asks for the divorce is the petitioner. If the petitioner files and services divorce papers to the respondent (other spouse), and the respondent fails to file or serve response papers, then the case is set for an uncontested final hearing.

In this case, the respondent is considered in default. In Missouri, you cannot receive money from your spouse in a default judgement.

The second way to get an uncontested divorce in Missouri is through joint petition for divorce.

This is when the petitioner and respondent agree to the divorce terms.

Together they file a joint petition and file their written agreement. They then go directly to a final hearing in front of a judge, and the divorce order is signed.

This is the quickest way to get divorced, but both parties must be in agreement about everything.

Missouri Residency Requirements

To get a divorce in Missouri, one spouse has to have resided in the State for a minimum of 90 days before the divorce papers are files.

Missouri is a no-fault state.

This means that if you are filing for divorce in MO you have to give the court a legal reason to grant the divorce.

In the case of a divorce, the only legal reason for a court to grant a divorce is due to a marriage being irretrievably broken.

When a couple claims that their marriage is irretrievable broken, they are saving that it is beyond repair, but no one person is at fault.

What is a contested divorce?

In a contested divorce, the parties have a disagreement on individual or all of the divorce’s terms.

The disagreement can be from the division of assets, child support, alimony, allocation of debts, and more. However, a contested cases can also arise from an individual apposing the divorce all together.

It is not uncommon for couples to begin the divorce process with a contested divorce, but reach an agreement before the court trial begins.

This is referred to as a settlement.

Reaching a divorce settlement

If a settlement is reached before taking the matter to court, a divorce attorney or mediator can draw up an agreement. After the agreement is signed by both parties, it becomes a legally binding contract.

In the event where a divorce is taken to court, it is never advised that a spouse represents their self in court.

There is an old quote that states, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

This is especially true in the case if one spouse has legal representation, but the other does not.

Due to the cost differences, at first glance, an uncontested divorce seems like the best options in many cases. However, in some situations, a contested divorce is the only option.

If there was a prenuptial agreement or a significant amount of assets, the divorce can be quite complicated and hard to determine without legal help. Alternatively, if the spouses are not on speaking terms, and there are children involved, an uncontested divorce may go faster.

Contested Divorce in Missouri

In Missouri, a contested divorce begins when the file of a petition for divorce is served to the other spouse.

If the spouse fails to respond within 30 days, they are in default and the petitioner can proceed to take a judgement against their spouse.

Typically, the spouse who failed to respond would then hire a lawyer to file an answer.

The court places an interim domestic relations order immediately following this ruling.

This is to avoid either party from concealing assets, creating debts, stalking, removing children from the state, etc.