What’s the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?

What’s the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce?

Are you thinking about getting a divorce? One thing you should know is the difference between types of divorce proceedings. In the province of Ontario, divorcing couples have the option of contested and uncontested divorce proceedings.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is when neither spouse opposes the divorce. There are two types of uncontested divorces: Simple and Joint.

In a Simple Divorce, you are asking for a divorce only. One party files for divorce with the court, serves the paperwork on the other party, and the other party does not file anything in response. They do not contest to the divorce and their lack of response after 30 days (60 days if the party is served outside of Canada or the United States) is considered to be acceptance of the divorce. Please note that a Simple Divorce is not necessarily an Uncontested Divorce. A Simple Divorce automatically becomes uncontested if the spouse does not file an Answer within the required time frame. This option is more convenient if the parties do not live in the same jurisdiction, or if the parties have difficulty cooperating with each other.

In a Joint Divorce, both parties file for divorce together. Both parties will sign the necessary court documents, advising the court that they both agree to the divorce.?? This option is more suitable when the spouses are amicable with each other and are capable of cooperating to sign the divorce documents.

Generally the divorce documents for either a Simple or Joint Divorce will also outline how the parties have dealt with the corollary issues, including the custody and access of any children, the division of assets, and any financial obligations either spouse is to have towards the other. These issues are referred to as corollary relief because they are corollary (a consequence of) the divorce. If there were a Separation Agreement, a copy would be attached to the court forms. To be clear, in a Simple or Joint divorce, you are not requesting that the court determine the issues of support, property or parenting arrangements of children, you are only requesting a divorce.

Uncontested divorces are a lower cost form of divorce as there are typically little to no legal fees involved. The only unavoidable fees are the court filing fees which are minimal, especially in comparison to what legal counsel would cost. If the parties can provide details as to how they resolved the corollary issues and have been living separately for at least one year, there is little to no reason why a judge would not grant their divorce.

Contested Divorce

When the spouses are unable to agree on all of the corollary issues and need a court to help resolve them, a General Application is filed.?? Typically contested divorces are more emotionally charged because of the sensitive subject matter of the issues being disputed. Children and money are the two most argued upon issues during a divorce, as they tend to be the most important things.

There are many reasons to want to contest a divorce, for instance:

  • Disagreement about getting a divorce in the first place
  • Proposed decision-making and visitation schedule for children
  • Division of assets
  • Spousal and/or child support amounts

Each of these topics can require an intense amount of legal work in order to come to either an agreement or a court order, making a contested divorce easily the messier, the more expensive and more time-consuming option. However sometimes it is the only option available to you if you are on the receiving end of a bad divorce proposal.

Always obtain independent legal advice before finalizing your divorce, even if it is uncontested. Contact Court Coach LLP for legal advice, representation, mediation, or help drafting or reviewing family law documents and agreements.

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The material on our website/blog is intended to provide only general information to the public and our existing clients. This information cannot under any circumstances be relied on as legal advice. To obtain legal advice, or to learn how the information on this website may or may not apply in your situation, please contact our office to speak with one of our lawyers.