Very few divorces end in litigation, despite the associations of divorce with an argumentative court battle. The majority of divorces are settled entirely or mostly outside of court, with couples utilizing methods such as collaborative divorce, negotiation, and divorce mediation to create a separation agreement themselves. However, some divorces need to be litigated. A compassionate divorce attorney is helpful to look through your options and find the right one for your family.

No form of ending a marriage is easy. Some forms of it, however, are less stressful and less expensive. If spouses are unwilling to work together or one spouse is not safe around the other, these faster and out-of-court types of divorce are likely unhelpful. It’s important to understand different forms of divorces and how they can be resolved.

Uncontested and Contested Divorces

In the U.S., most states allow both contested and uncontested divorces. The type of divorce you obtain depends on whether you and your spouse can craft a separation agreement together. Your attorney can review the circumstances of your divorce to determine which would provide you with the most benefits.

  • Uncontested Divorce

    This occurs when both spouses are in agreement about the various important aspects of their divorce, including how property is divided and whether spousal support is awarded. If the couple has children, they should also be in agreement about child support payments and child custody arrangements. If a couple is not in full agreement but is willing to negotiate and reach a compromise, this is also an uncontested divorce.

    When spouses file for an uncontested divorce, they file together and then submit the separation agreement to the court for approval when they have reached a solution. If the court determines the agreement to be favorable to both spouses and in the interests of any children they have, then it will approve the agreement.

    When couples negotiate an uncontested divorce, they do so outside the court through alternative dispute resolution methods.

  • Contested Divorce

    A contested divorce happens when spouses cannot agree on the aspects of their divorce order and are unwilling to negotiate. A contested divorce also occurs if one spouse wants a divorce and the other doesn’t.

    Nearly all contested divorces must be resolved through court dates and litigation. The finalized divorce decree is not decided by spouses but by the family court judge. Each spouse and their attorney can advocate for their wishes but cannot ensure the outcome of the divorce.

    Some couples begin their contested divorce as an uncontested divorce before realizing they cannot reach an agreement. If one spouse is unwilling to compromise or is trying to drag out the process of an uncontested divorce, it may be necessary to take the case to litigation. Although a spouse can still be uncooperative or slow down the process, the court will eventually come to a decision, and the divorce will be finalized.

When Is Litigation the Right Option?

You and your spouse may not be amicable, but that does not automatically mean you need to get a contested divorce. Even contentious spouses can get an uncontested divorce, often by opting for options like collaborative divorce, where they are both represented by an attorney. Spouses who disagree do not have to litigate everything.

However, if you are getting a divorce, and your spouse is refusing to compromise, discuss, and negotiate the terms of the separation agreement, an uncontested divorce is likely not an option for you. If your spouse is a danger to you or your children, an in-court divorce may offer you more protection.

If there are circumstances that offer your spouse significant power over you in negotiations, such as emotional or financial abuse or significantly greater resources, a litigated divorce can help you protect your rights.


Q: What Is the Timeline for a Divorce in Illinois?

A: The timeline for any divorce depends on many factors. In an uncontested divorce in Illinois, where parties can create their own separation agreement and submit it to the court for approval, a divorce may be finalized within several weeks. Uncontested divorces have no mandatory waiting period under state law, meaning the only thing prolonging the process is how long it takes couples to negotiate the agreement.

In a contested divorce, the process often takes much longer. At a minimum, couples face a six-month mandatory waiting period. However, contested divorces may take up to a year or longer.

Q: How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize in Nebraska?

A: Each divorce is unique, but the absolute minimum time it takes to file a divorce in Nebraska depends on the state’s two waiting periods. Many divorces may have disputes, complicated assets, contested issues, or other complications that lengthen the process. There is a minimum waiting period of 90 days if there are no outside factors. When a couple files for divorce, the court will not try the case for 60 days.

Once the case has been heard and a divorce decree has been entered into the court, there is a period of 30 days before the decree is finalized. If either party wishes to remarry after divorce, the divorce is only considered completely finalized after six months have passed since the decree was entered.

Q: Does Kansas Require Counseling Before Divorce?

A: Not all divorces have required or court-ordered marriage counseling. However, there is a possibility that a Kansas family court will order a couple to get marriage counseling before attempting mediation or litigation for divorce. Kansas law allows judges to require counseling, but in a practical sense, marriage counseling is rarely useful if one or both parties object to it. Courts may order counseling if they feel the parties are amicable and open to resolving their marriage without divorce.

Q: Does Missouri Require Separation Before Divorce?

A: There is no separation required to file for divorce, but there is separation required to finalize a divorce. Missouri requires a 30-day waiting period after a couple has filed for divorce, and spouses must live separately during that time. Live separately is a term that may mean living in different homes or living in the same home but sleeping and navigating their days in different locations. Couples can also choose to separate prior to filing or finalizing divorce based on their own wishes.

Contact Stange Law Firm

Each divorce has its own unique challenges, and your family’s needs and circumstances are what determine the right course of action. Contact an attorney at Stange Law Firm to determine the right option for you.