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What Are the Differences Between Contested and Uncontested Divorces?


While any divorce case can be a headache for all involved, some are more complex than others. As is the case in most states, there are two types of divorce available in Colorado: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is one in which the spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues – culminating in a delay of marriage termination. An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, is a simple process in which the couple can agree on all required issues and effectively terminate marriage with nothing left unresolved or disputed. Get the facts about each type to help protect yourself, your assets, and your children in the event of a divorce.

Colorado Divorce Laws

Colorado is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means the courts do not look at fault when considering whether a divorce is valid but rather whether the couple has “irreconcilable differences.” The courts can, however, consider fault when dividing property and awarding alimony. Due to Colorado’s equitable division laws, couples may pursue litigation more aggressively than in other states since property division is on the line. Equitable division means the judge will divide marital property in a way that he or she considers fair (not necessarily equal). Because of this fact, many couples may argue about key issues – leading to a contested divorce.

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, the courts will delay the termination of marriage until the spouses can come to an agreement about main issues. These issues may include child custody, child support, alimony, property, assets, and debts. If both spouses want full custody of children, for example, they would have a contested divorce. In this situation, the spouses will take to the courtroom, providing evidence and testimony to support their own cause.

In the event that the spouses still cannot agree on the terms of a divorce after courtroom trials, the judge will decide. In these cases, the court will only decide on terms you cannot agree on. For example, if you’ve come to an agreement about child custody but not how to split debts, the courts will honor your custody agreement but decide on debt. The court will decide on outstanding issues based on the discovery phase and the trial.

Contested divorces can be time-consuming and require quite a bit of litigation and negotiation of issues to reach a reasonable agreement. If you and your spouse cannot agree on major issues during your divorce, arm yourself with a capable Colorado divorce attorney. This is especially important if your spouse has hired an attorney of his or her own. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce and the final judgment, it’s possible the courts will demand your spouse pay your attorney’s fees.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorce is exactly what the name implies – one in which spouses agree on key issues and do not contest them. This type of divorce is also called “default divorce” or “simple divorce.” If you and your spouse agree on debt, custody, child support, alimony, and the division of assets, the courts will simply rule on your requests and order a termination of marriage. You do not need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce, although many people still do retain an attorney for assistance.

Uncontested divorces are not always amicable. In many cases, one spouse may make demands about key issues and “win” by default – meaning the other spouse fails to defend him/herself and answer your petition. The proceedings will continue without your spouse’s input. If there are children involved in the divorce, the courts will conduct interviews and give recommendations to decide child custody matters. The courts will always rule on custody and child support within the children’s best interests, regardless of the type of divorce.

Whether your divorce is contested or uncosted, contacting a qualified divorce attorney in Fort Collins can help you get the outcome you need and deserve. Get in touch with the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci to see how we can help you.

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