What is the Difference between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce in SC?
When a couple is facing a divorce, it is almost always a difficult and emotionally-taxing period in their lives. The marriage dissolution process can make things very stressful, depending on how the spouses decide to handle it. To avoid a long and contentious proceeding that is costly for both sides, spouses should try to handle things as amicably and reasonably as possible.
Divorces in South Carolina can be either contested or uncontested, depending on the circumstances of the case. Here is a look at the some of the differences between the two:
Sometimes referred to as a “simple divorce”, an uncontested divorce is one in which the spouses are in full agreement on every issue, allowing them to complete the process with minimal time and expense. In other words, the parties agree completely on how they want to divide the assets and debts within the marital estate, how they want to handle child custody and visitation issues, as well as child support and potential alimony payments.
People sometimes mistake an “uncontested” divorce for a “no-fault” divorce, but these terms are very different. Where a “no-fault” divorce simply means the party filing is not claiming a fault ground for the divorce (like adultery, physical cruelty, or habitual drunkenness or drug use), an “uncontested” divorce may or may not involve fault grounds but simply means an agreement has been reached between the parties on all other issues of their marriage. This is an important distinction because a “no-fault” divorce can still be highly contested.
Although a simple or uncontested divorce is a great idea, in reality, these types of divorces are not all that common. Even if a couple gets along fairly well, there are usually some differences of opinion about various issues that must be resolved. Otherwise, they would probably not be getting divorced in the first place.
The most common scenario where a simple or uncontested divorce can usually work is with shorter duration marriages in which there are very few marital assets and debts and no children. In such cases, there is a lot less to fight over, and these couples can often take advantage of the more streamlined divorce process.
Any divorce in which there is a disagreement about one or more issues among the spouses would be considered a contested divorce. This could mean a fault-based divorce that is filed on grounds such as adultery or physical abuse, or a no-fault divorce where the spouses have kids and some marital assets that have accumulated, but they are not in total agreement about issues regarding the children, property division, spousal support, and others.
As we eluded to previously, most divorce cases that come into the South Carolina family courts are considered “contested.” However, just because there are some issues to iron out, this does not mean that your divorce has to turn into a long, drawn out court battle.
It is very easy to get caught up with the notion of doing the most streamlined and cost-efficient divorce possible. But it is far more important to take the time necessary to fully address all the important issues and ensure that your interests (and the best interests of your children) are fully protected.
Once your divorce is finalized, there are only certain issues that may be modified by a later order. Others cannot. That is why it is much better to get everything right during the initial process, so you can begin to put this chapter behind you and move forward with your life.
This can still be done with minimal cost and without the need for an expensive trial. In fact, the vast majority of divorces in South Carolina are settled out of court by negotiating a resolution between the parties.
Speak with a Skilled South Carolina Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering a divorce, it is best to speak with an experienced family law attorney to review your options and help decide which path is best for you. For over two decades, the Cate Law Firm has assisted clients with divorces and all other types of family legal matters in South Carolina. We work closely with our clients, taking the time to listen and understand their unique needs, so we can develop the most practical, effective, and cost-efficient legal solution.
For a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 864-251-5855. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Spartanburg office in person at your convenience.