When serving your spouse with divorce papers, they have the option to contest or agree to the divorce. An uncontested divorce makes the process quicker, keeping your case out of the Courts and your costs down. A contested divorce typically takes longer, usually requires Court intervention and costs much more.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a divorce that is not defended or disputed. The legal process is often more straightforward when a divorce is uncontested. It can be dealt with, without the need for either party to attend Court.
Processing an uncontested divorce can be completed within six-eight months, depending on how quickly you and your spouse file the necessary paperwork with the Court. The timeframe is also subject to how busy the Court is.
If you are the party who initiated divorce proceedings, referred to as the petitioner, Holland Family Law offers a fixed fee, uncontested (petitioner) divorce package to help you with the legal process.
Equally, if you are the person served with divorce papers, referred to as the respondent, and you don’t want to contest the divorce, we have an uncontested (respondent) divorce package.
Each package provides you with a specialist divorce lawyer assigned to your case for advice and support.
What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce is one that your spouse disputes and will defend. The process tends to be more complicated and often requires Court intervention.
If a divorce is contested, both parties can expect to attend Court, usually twice. A respondent who wishes to contest a divorce has an additional month to submit a statement giving reasons for contesting the divorce. The additional month begins from the date that the Acknowledgment of Service is returned to the Court.
If a respondent does not submit a statement within one month, the divorce process will continue as an uncontested divorce.
A contested divorce can occur for many reasons. For example, the respondent may feel that a marriage has not broken down irretrievably.
When filing for divorce you must provide a reason, choosing from five options, which are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Desertion (for a period of 2 years)
- Two years’ separation, with the other party’s consent
- Five years’ separation
A Court will require both parties to give evidence, with a judge then deciding whether the petitioner is entitled to a divorce based on the evidence presented.
Is a contested divorce uncommon?
A contested divorce is rare, but even if a divorce is disputed, it’s unlikely that the Court will not allow it to be finalised. In cases where a divorce is contested, and the respondent is unsuccessful, the Court may order the respondent to pay the petitioner’s costs.
Can a contested divorce become an uncontested divorce?
Yes. It may be that a respondent changes their mind about not contesting the divorce for personal reasons or based on legal advice.
Can a contested divorce ruling be appealed?
Yes. Though it’s extremely rare. However, some respondents that have appealed have been successful. A husband and wife case back in 2012 saw Lady Justice Black, a member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, grant the husband permission to appeal a divorce ruling by overturning the decree nisi.