The Pros & Cons Of Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce In Alabama

Whether you never saw divorce coming, or you’ve known for a long time that your marriage is over, it isn’t an easy process to go through. There are legal and emotional implications to grapple with, a possible custody arrangement that needs to be created if you have kids, concerns about your financial stability, and complicated assets and debts that need to be divided, so it’s safe to say that your plate is full.

One of the decisions you’ll have to make almost immediately is how you want to approach your divorce; there is more than just one way to do it! This blog will address the pros and cons of two types of divorce, contested and uncontested, so that you might have a better understanding of the options available to you and can choose the path that makes the most sense for your unique situation. 

Before we dive in, let’s define contested and uncontested divorce. Contested divorce is considered the more traditional route. It involves two parties which cannot agree on major issues and will thus have to rely on the court to come up with a final decision. It’s usually the more complicated way to divorce, but is often necessary in several situations which we’ll later discuss. 

Uncontested divorce is a simpler way to divorce as it takes place when both parties agree on all major issues. It’s safe to say that when two people are on the same page, divorce can go much smoother. 

However, it’s important to remember that while one of these methods of divorce might have more appeal over the other, both have pros and cons. If you’re considering your options for divorce and trying to determine what’s right for you, keep reading!

The Pros Of Uncontested Divorce

  • Less Time Consuming

Uncontested divorce is handled outside of the courtroom because there is no need for a trial when you agree on every aspect of your divorce. In turn, you can save yourself time by avoiding back-and-forth arguments over who gets what. 

  • Less Expensive

In addition to saving yourself time, uncontested divorce can also save you money. The average cost of a traditional divorce in Alabama is between $12,500-$18,800. The average cost of an uncontested divorce in Alabama is between $200-$1,000. When you’re able to negotiate on the various aspects of divorce and reach a decision on your own, you can avoid conflict and legal proceedings that typically result in higher legal fees and court costs.

  • Less Stressful

Let’s be honest, divorce can’t be completely stress-free, but it can be significantly less stressful when you pursue an uncontested divorce. Solving divorce matters without the involvement of a judge and saving money play a big part in that. (As does avoiding the emotional chaos of contentious courtroom battles and drug-out legal disputes.)

The Cons Of Uncontested Divorce

  • More Compromises

Like all things, uncontested divorce also has its flaws, one being that you might find yourself bending on important issues in order to reach a quicker resolution. In a contested divorce, you have more of an opportunity to advocate for your own interests. This can be especially true when it comes to spousal or child support, two things you likely won’t want to compromise on.  

  • Unequal Or Unfair Power Dynamics

In some relationships, one party may hold more power or leverage in negotiations, which might make it challenging for the other party to advocate for themselves. This can be especially difficult for those who are victims of verbal, emotional, or even physical abuse. If that is the case in your situation, uncontested divorce may not be the right choice for you.

The Pros Of Contested Divorce

  • Your Best Interests & Rights Are Protected

In a contested divorce situation, divorce attorneys will advocate fiercely for their clients in a way that prioritizes their goals. Instead of focusing on maintaining peaceful negotiations that may force you to compromise, your divorce lawyer can fight to protect your rights and the things that matter most to you in your divorce, like keeping the assets you earned or gaining full custody of your children. 

  • Legal Enforcement

As previously mentioned, the court makes the final decisions in a contested divorce. This means that those decisions or “orders” must be abided by. If for some reason your former spouse doesn’t abide by what’s been ruled on by a judge, you can file a motion for contempt. This applies to court ordered alimony or spousal support, and even child support if your former spouse isn’t paying the amount they’re legally required to. 

The Cons Of Contested Divorce

  • More Stressful

Since a contested divorce is the result of two people who cannot agree on what to do with assets, property, child custody, and more, it’s naturally much more contentious. Your marriage ending in general is already difficult to deal with emotionally; divorcing in a contested manner can further exhaust emotional capacity and lead to heightened stress and conflict. 

  • More Expensive

Contested divorce involves a variety of expenses that an uncontested divorce does not, which can significantly increase the financial burden for both you and your spouse. The total cost will be dependent on factors like filing fees and other court costs, attorney rates (hourly or flat flee), and how complicated and contentious your divorce is.

  • More Time-Consuming

Contested divorce takes longer because it involves more time in court, especially if a divorce trial is necessary. In a divorce trial, both parties get the opportunity to present their side of the story and question witnesses, which can last 6 months or longer. 

Important Considerations Before Choosing A Method Of Divorce

It’s easy to think about the “here and now” of divorce because your emotions are so fresh and consuming. While you should consider your short-term goals so that you can navigate the immediate challenges, you should also think of your long-term goals and where you want to be post-divorce even a year or several down the road. Do you and your former spouse have children that you want to create a more stable environment for in the midst of divorce but also for years to come? Is your time limited because you need to focus on your career, or maybe because you and your children are in an unsafe situation because of your spouse? These are things to consider before you choose an approach to divorce. 

Remember, Divorce Isn’t “One Size Fits All” – It Should BE Tailored To YOUR Needs

At Foxtrot Family Law, we understand that each marriage is unique, so divorce won’t be any different. We will not offer you a one-size-fits-all solution – we will listen to your story, evaluate your goals and needs, and help create a strategy for divorce that will give you confidence and peace of mind both during and after the process. Call Foxtrot Family Law today to request a consultation and discover your next steps and options. 

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