“Contested” refers to a dispute, argument or controversy. A contested divorce means there are issues in dispute that must be resolved through settlement or verdict before your divorce can be finalized. In an uncontested divorce, parties have settled their issues. Issues that courts require divorcing parties to resolve include child custody, visitation, child support, property division and, in certain cases, alimony or spousal support. Generally speaking, many couples pursuing divorce have trouble getting along, and most divorces start out with contested issues. Attorney Chris Palermo works closely with you, helping you address contested issues, whether through mediation or negotiated settlement so you can reach an uncontested divorce agreement. Ideally, he can help you avoid litigation. Once you agree on all facets of the divorce, attorneys draft a settlement agreement, have you both sign it and submit it to the court for approval.
An uncontested divorce can help you avoid a trial. The time involved with a trial is typically a year or longer, and one advantage of uncontested divorce is that it saves you time. Trials are also expensive because you have to pay court fees and attorney fees for the time spent litigating the case.
From an emotional standpoint, trials can be a harrowing experience because trials are adversarial by nature. Counsels present evidence against the other party and argue the case in open court. Private matters that arise during trial become part of public record, which can be embarrassing for the divorcing couple ─ not to mention how conflict affects children in divorcing families.
While rare today, some couples are able to agree on all facets of their divorce by themselves and do not have any contested issues. The question then arises, why would you need an attorney?
Divorce is a legal proceeding and the law is complicated. Issues are often involved that you would never even think to consider. An attorney’s job is to protect your rights and interests. Also, there may be options you were unaware of that would better serve your interests and perhaps even your spouse’s interests. As a matter of due diligence, always seek a legal opinion when pursuing divorce. A lawyer can also help you meet the legal requirements necessary in drafting a settlement agreement and avoid barriers to obtaining court approval.