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What You Need to Know About Contested and Uncontested Divorces

As divorce lawyers, we frequently encounter inquiries about the distinctions between uncontested or Joint Petition for Divorce and contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the terms outlined in the divorce petition. When agreement is elusive, couples must navigate a contested divorce through the court system, where a judge ultimately decides on the divorce’s finalization.

In an uncontested divorce, a joint divorce petition is filed, reflecting the consensus between both parties. In contrast, a contested divorce necessitates one spouse to initiate the divorce proceedings by filing the divorce papers and having them formally served by the other spouse, initiating the court’s involvement in resolving their disputes. Understanding these differences is a crucial step in navigating the challenges of divorce, whether through negotiation or litigation, with the ultimate goal of achieving favorable outcomes for all parties involved.

Issues that are involved in a divorce are child custody, child support, how marital assets are to be divided, and often, alimony (NRS 125.150). If both spouses are in agreement on these issues, the divorce is not contested. If they are contested, then the divorce process goes forward in court and it is the judge who makes the final decision on each issue or convinces both the spouses to reach a settlement. It costs less and takes less time for an uncontested divorce. This kind of divorce, a Joint Petition for Divorce, turns out to be cheaper and faster because there are no court proceedings to go through.

While one spouse cannot prevent the other from pursuing a divorce, the entire divorce process can be put on hold if both parties don’t agree on the divorce terms. The spouse initiating the divorce, in collaboration with their divorce lawyer, outlines the terms of the divorce. If the other spouse doesn’t concur with these terms, the case may proceed to a trial, where a judge will have the authority to make the final decisions on each of the contentious issues. This legal procedure underscores the significance of effective negotiation and reaching a settlement agreement to avoid a time-consuming and costly court trial, ensuring that the divorce proceeds smoothly.

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce

If an agreement is reached on all issues, especially regarding the division of assets, child custody, and alimony, then you can file a petition for an uncontested divorce. In such cases, the average cost for this uncontested divorce is $1,500 and may take up to 30 days.

In uncontested divorces, the process is generally straightforward. It commences with one of the spouses seeking the services of a divorce attorney, who is responsible for drafting the requisite legal documents. Subsequently, both spouses diligently review and negotiate the terms outlined in these documents, including pivotal aspects like child support, child custody, the equitable distribution of assets and debts, and alimony arrangements. The final step involves the submission of these documents for judicial review. Upon receiving the judge’s approval, the uncontested divorce culminates in issuing a final divorce decree, officially marking the end of the marriage. This efficient process offers couples an amicable and less time-consuming path to divorce, mainly when they can collaborate effectively and agree on essential matters related to their separation.

When spouses cannot reach an agreement, a divorce suit must be filed, leading to a judge’s final decision. In these instances, the average cost of a contested divorce can be a significant burden, around $5,000 for each spouse, and the process can be time-consuming, taking an average of 6 months to reach a resolution. In more complex cases, expenses may soar to as much as $15,000 per spouse, and the litigation can extend for a year or even longer. These challenges highlight the critical role of a skilled divorce lawyer in navigating the legal intricacies, ensuring the best possible results, and helping individuals through the emotionally and financially taxing process.

Initiating a contested divorce follows a structured procedure. One party, typically represented by a divorce attorney, files essential divorce documents with the court to commence the case. These documents are formally served to the other spouse, ensuring they receive proper notice of the divorce and related claims. Subsequently, the non-filing spouse has 21 days to respond, allowing time for negotiation and reaching agreements on various aspects of the divorce, such as property division, financial matters, and child custody, among others. This formalized process ensures that everyone involved can address their concerns and work towards a mutually agreeable outcome within the legal framework.

CMC or case management conference is then scheduled. This leads to the first hearing in court, 90 days after the filing of the documents. At this hearing, the judge passed temporary orders on things like who will live in the house, have child custody, financial support, and other issues.

This then leads to a process called discovery. Discovery allows both sides to request documents and hold depositions. The attorneys on both sides use this process of discovery to gather the evidence that they need for the trial that will come up. During the trial, all documents are shared, and witnesses are brought in to testify before the judge. There is no jury involved in these trials and they take place before a judge. Once both attorneys have presented their case, it is the judge who makes a final ruling on each of the claims before filing a final divorce decree.

To learn more before filing a final divorce decree, please read NRS 125.240 first.

In fact, a contested divorce has other things in it than what has been explained earlier. What we have given there is a simplified version of this process for a contested divorce. The detailed view will require you to look at things like an FDF or financial disclosure form that needs to be filed when the case needs to be opened. These documents explain all your finances. You will also need to file bank statements, pay stubs, and tax returns. These disclosures come under Section 16.2.

In most contested divorce cases, settlements are arrived at. A bare 10% of them actually end up in the trial court. Cases can be settled two times. These can be either before the case management conference or just before the case goes to trial. Why are cases settled at these times? This is probably because both clients and their attorneys are preparing for trial. Due to this, all the parties concerned have the time to assess the merits of their respective claims.

Stipulated Divorce

In many divorce cases, disagreements are minimal, yet one spouse may be unwilling to opt for an uncontested divorce. In such instances, divorce lawyers often employ a strategic approach known as a stipulated or negotiated divorce. Here’s how it unfolds: the attorney initiates a contested divorce filing and subsequently endeavors to settle. After the contested divorce is filed, the opposing spouse has 21 days to respond, as failing to do so can result in a Default Divorce. This method helps navigate the intricacies of the legal process and fosters communication between the involved parties, ensuring that the outcome aligns with their interests. While the divorce may be straightforward for some, it’s essential to have the proper legal guidance to address any challenges and secure favorable results in your divorce case.

A settlement letter is a crucial document that often prompts deep contemplation when served during divorce proceedings. This letter meticulously outlines the specific terms and conditions for the divorce, offering both parties a clear view of the proposed settlement. Once the spouse receiving the letter reviews its contents, they face a critical decision. They can opt to retain the services of a divorce lawyer, incurring significant expenses, or they can engage in direct communication to discuss and potentially agree upon the terms presented in the settlement letter. If both parties find little to no disagreement on the issues at hand, an amicable resolution can often be reached, saving a significant amount of time and money throughout the divorce process. This step highlights the importance of open communication and negotiation during divorce, as it can pave the way for smoother and more cost-effective outcomes while considering the interests and concerns of everyone involved.

Considering the Stakes in a Divorce

In both contested and uncontested divorces, significant stakes are involved, though the nature of these stakes differs. Contested divorces often revolve around high-stake financial and emotional matters. Disagreements can arise regarding property division, spousal support, and child custody, leading to lengthy and emotionally draining legal battles. The final decision in a contested divorce typically rests with a judge, potentially resulting in outcomes neither party finds entirely fulfilling. In such instances, it’s essential to enlist the services of an experienced divorce lawyer to safeguard your interests and navigate the intricacies of the legal process.

Conversely, in uncontested divorces, the stakes are still significant, primarily focusing on achieving a fair and harmonious settlement. The primary challenge in uncontested divorces is to ensure that both parties reach a consensus on crucial matters such as asset division and child-related concerns. Securing a mutually advantageous settlement agreement is crucial for both spouses, as it can significantly impact their financial stability and the well-being of their children. While uncontested divorces are typically more efficient in terms of time and costs, they necessitate meticulous negotiation and legal guidance to secure favorable outcomes for everyone involved. Regardless of the divorce type, understanding the stakes and enlisting the proper legal support can be instrumental in achieving a satisfactory resolution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions.

Q. Do I need a lawyer in Nevada for an uncontested divorce?

While Nevada doesn’t mandate legal representation for an uncontested divorce, having legal guidance can guarantee the accurate completion of essential paperwork and safeguard your rights and interests. Uncontested divorces usually pertain to couples who find common ground on significant matters such as property division, child custody, and financial support. Many individuals going through uncontested divorces opt for self-help resources or online divorce services, often more budget-friendly than retaining an attorney.

Nevertheless, seeking advice from a lawyer, even on a limited basis, can offer peace of mind and a better understanding of the process, which can significantly reduce the complexity, time-consumption, and stress that can accompany divorce negotiations and legal hearings, mainly when children and family matters are involved. Legal mediation can make a substantial difference in reaching an amicable resolution for couples of all types.

Q. How much does an uncontested divorce in Nevada cost?

The expenses of an uncontested divorce in Nevada vary, but they are generally more budget-friendly than contested divorce cases. You should anticipate filing fees, which can typically range from around $300 to $450, contingent on your specific country. Should you opt for online divorce services or self-prepared paperwork, these expenses can be relatively minimal. Should you require legal representation, consulting an attorney may involve additional fees, though these expenses are generally lower than those incurred during contested divorce proceedings.

All in all, opting for an uncontested divorce in Nevada is a cost-effective choice, particularly when both parties can reach mutual agreements without the need for protracted legal battles or negotiations, which can save time and reduce everyone’s stress levels in a family law matter.

Q. Do both parties have to consent to a divorce in Nevada?

In Nevada, divorce doesn’t necessitate the consent of both parties, thanks to the state’s “no-fault” divorce system. This legal approach permits one spouse to file for divorce without the other’s agreement. As long as the filing spouse fulfills the residency criteria and can demonstrate that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” the court will grant the divorce, regardless of any disagreements or reluctance from the other party to end the marriage.

In essence, this allows one party to unilaterally initiate the divorce process, with the court overseeing the proceedings, ensuring everyone’s interests and concerns are considered.

Q. How long after a divorce can you remarry in Las Vegas?

In Las Vegas, there’s no waiting period, and you can remarry right after your divorce is finalized. Once your divorce is officially granted, you can tie the knot without delay. This speedy and hassle-free marriage process, for which Las Vegas is famous, is equally accessible to those seeking to remarry post-divorce, making it a convenient choice for many individuals. Whether you’re eager to start a new chapter in your life or want to avoid any time-consuming bureaucratic hurdles, Las Vegas offers a straightforward way to proceed with your marriage plans following divorce.

Q. Is it easy to get a divorce in Nevada?

Obtaining a divorce in Nevada is relatively straightforward thanks to the state’s “no-fault” divorce system, which is well-regarded for its efficiency. If one spouse meets Nevada’s residency requirements and can demonstrate that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” the court will grant the divorce, even if the other party disagrees. This simplified process, coupled with the absence of a mandatory waiting period, offers convenience for those seeking to dissolve their marriage quickly.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that while divorce may be easily attainable, legal counsel can be invaluable, particularly when addressing intricate matters like asset division, child custody, and support, ensuring a just and favorable outcome in your divorce case.

Get Expert Legal Assistance Now!

Navigating the complexities of contested and uncontested divorce can be daunting. That’s why at Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd, our seasoned attorneys are here to provide expert legal assistance, ensuring you’re not alone in this challenging journey. Whether amid heated disputes or aiming for an amicable resolution, our experts are well-versed in all aspects of family law. We understand that divorce cases vary significantly from one couple to another, and we work as a dedicated team to tailor our services to your unique circumstances.

By choosing Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd, you gain a reliable partner for the legal intricacies of divorce, from addressing financial concerns to co-parenting matters. Contact us today to receive the experienced and personalized legal support you need for a smoother divorce process.

Contact Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd.  The number is  (702) 474-0500. You can learn more about the divorce process.