A contested dissolution is one where the spouses do not agree on at least ONE issue – be it the parenting plan, the equitable distribution of your assets and liabilities, the issue of alimony or child support, or the issue of attorney fees/costs. Disagreement on any one of these matters will make your case “contested,” thereby the parties must petition the court that they will need to resolve that dispute(s) with its assistance. Typically, attorney’s fees are charged on an hourly basis and the total cost depends on how much the parties must fight to either later settle the disputed issues or submit the matter for trial.
An uncontested divorce is just that – the parties are commencing the proceeding with a full settlement of all issues with a written and signed settlement agreement executed prior to the filing of the case. The executed (signed and notarized) martial settlement agreement must contain all provisions of the parties’ agreement, and must be filed with the court, along with the petition, and an answer from the “respondent” spouse that indicates there are no disputed issues.
The martial settlement agreement would have to include an encompass your parenting plan, your equitable distribution agreement, your agreement regarding alimony, your child support calculation based on the statute (including the worksheet in support of it) and any agreement regarding payment of attorney fees/costs.
An uncontested divorce MUST still meet all paperwork requirements, including the filing of a financial affidavit and child support worksheet, UCCJEA affidavit, etc.
Typically, fees for an uncontested divorce are charged on a flat fee, although if excessive negotiation and redrafting must occur to achieve the signed marital settlement agreement, the additional work is usually charged on an hourly basis.
If you aren’t sure which type of divorce filing you should prepare, contested or uncontested, an experienced divorce attorney can help walk you through the process. To learn more about how one of our attorneys can help you with your divorce, contact us today.