A divorce is never an easy situation. However, if you are currently weighing your options in an attempt to go at this alone, we highly suggest contacting an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law. This will ensure that you have the support you need when going through this life-changing event.
Now, although we do suggest consulting with a professional, it never hurts to do a little research on your own especially when it comes to contested vs. uncontested divorce.
An Overview of Contested and Uncontested Divorce
When you and your partner decide the marriage is over, a number of decisions need to be made. These will relate to the issues that are brought about through divorce, and can include, but are not limited to:
- The division of the marital assets and debts
- Child custody and visitation
- Spousal support and alimony
- Payment of court costs for the divorce
- Other disputes that can be caused during the breakdown of a marriage
If you are able to agree on decisions mutually before taking the divorce to court, then you have the opportunity to file for an uncontested divorce.
It might take a while to come to agreements, but with the help of your attorney and perhaps even a mediation service, you might be able to come to resolutions that work for both of you.
However, if agreements cannot be made, then your divorce will become contested, and a trial will need to take place so agreements can be made by the court.
It is important to note that a contested divorce can later become an uncontested divorce if both parties are able to work out disagreements during the divorce process.
You should note that you can only get an uncontested divorce in Kansas if residency requirements have been met.
This means that the spouse asking for the divorce needs to have been a resident of the state of Kansas for at least 60 days before filing a divorce claim.
You and your spouse also have to be in agreement on the grounds of the divorce before going to court. The grounds for divorce can include, but are not limited to:
- Incompatibility (any reason that suggests you no longer get along anymore).
- The failure to perform a material duty or obligation in the marriage.
- Reasons related to mental illness in one or both of the spouses.
If you choose to have legal counsel when filing an uncontested divorce, an experienced attorney will give you specific advice on what does and does not constitute as grounds for divorce.
Differences Between Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Below, we will take a look at three major differences between a contested and uncontested divorce.
1. The length of divorce proceedings
A big difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce is the time that it will take for it to become finalized.
A divorce case in Kansas will be quicker if it is uncontested, and in some cases, can be over in as little as two to three months.
So, to reduce some of the stresses you will be under during the divorce process, you might want to consider doing what you can to facilitate an uncontested divorce. Otherwise, you are looking at proceedings taking around a year or more.
The length of the proceedings increases due to the trials and legal processing that will need to take place.
In Kansas, there is a 60-day waiting period before the court grants a divorce. This applies to an uncontested as well as a contested divorce.
In an emergency situation, the court might complete the divorce sooner than the 60 days, but there is no guarantee. Your divorce attorney will be able to advise you further and talk to you about the circumstances that might constitute an emergency situation.
2. Financial expenses
The average cost of your divorce is difficult to determine, as you will have a range of fees to consider, from the costs of hiring an attorney to the type of divorce you file for.
In regards to the latter, if you and your spouse can come to mutual decisions for an uncontested divorce, you will save on legal fees, as you won’t require a trial, discovery, or any other time-consuming process that would otherwise add to your expenses.
You may want to save even more by not hiring an attorney at all, but to ensure you don’t make any legal missteps, you will want to budget for this.
You will likely be charged a retainer and hourly fee for an attorney, with costs sometimes varying depending on the complexities of your case. Still, the brevity and simplicity of uncontested divorce will ease your financial burden significantly.
No matter what route you take, you will have to pay some court fees. To find out the exact amount you will have to pay when filing your divorce, contact the court in the county you are going to file within.
Usually, this amount is between $100 – $200, but the court clerk will be able to give a more accurate number here. You will be liable for other court fees too, such as when you ask for the documents to be officially served to your spouse.
Cost of Mediation
Another cost to consider is the expense of a mediator or arbitrator. The total cost of divorce mediation is usually anywhere between $500 and $1,500+, but if you can work things out between yourself and partner, you can eliminate some or all of these mediation costs.
3. The option to appeal against a court judgment
As both parties are consenting to a particular arrangement in an uncontested divorce, you might not need or want to make an appeal.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to stick with the agreement forever. You can return to court if circumstances change, or when a specific amount of time has passed if you need the agreement to be modified.
When it comes to a contested divorce, the judge is the person who ultimately makes the final decisions.
He or she will weigh out all mitigating circumstances and will choose what they believe to be right. Hopefully, you will agree with their decision, as appealing against their judgment can be both difficult and expensive.
You will need to have a solid reason to return to court for your appeal, such as evidence that the law was not upheld by your spouse, or reasons to suggest that the judge who initially handled your case acted unfairly.
Needless to say, an uncontested divorce is the better option if you and your spouse can make early decisions with regards to a settlement, create your own outcome without the need for a judge to get involved in your case, and thus will have less need for an appeal.
What is Right for Your Situation?
An uncontested divorce is often seen as the more favorable option. You and your spouse will have the chance to end your marriage quickly, quietly, and with less expense. You should also have the opportunity to settle on an agreement that suits you both.
However, if you and your spouse aren’t able to come to any agreements, then a contested divorce is a better idea. It’s also a good idea if there is a disparity of power between you.
By taking your case to trial, the judge will ensure that your case is heard fairly, and your attorney will work hard to ensure that you don’t lose any assets or custody rights in the process.
Ultimately, you need to think about the pros and cons and how they relate to your situation.
Whatever you decide, your best course of action is to get the process started as quickly as possible, especially when it has been decided that the marriage is no longer working.
Contact an experienced attorney to help you gather everything you will need to file your divorce, and then wait for your hearing date.
During the waiting period, try to resolve as many matters as you can with your spouse to ensure an uncontested divorce is possible, or try to work out as much as you can together to limit the need for a contested divorce.
If you need advice or legal counsel for anything pertaining to divorce law in Kansas, get in touch with us today. Our Hutchinson, KS team understands how stressful divorce can be and we will work hard to find the best outcome for you.