Contested vs Uncontested Divorce: What You Need to Know

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce: What You Need to Know

November 15, 2023

By FairWell Family Law Mediation

Learn how to choose the right path for your separation. This article explains the differences between contested vs uncontested divorce.

Did you know that the United States has one of the highest divorce rates in the world? It’s a fact that underscores the importance of understanding the different types of divorce processes available.

In this blog post, your expert team at FairWell will explore the key differences between contested and uncontested divorce, with a specific focus on how these options apply in the state of Minnesota.

Whether you’re considering a divorce or just curious about the legal aspects, read on to learn more about contested vs uncontested divorce. Let’s get started.

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, couples are unable to reach an agreement on essential issues such as division of property, child custody, alimony, and child support.

When spouses find themselves at odds over these matters, the divorce becomes “contested.” Here’s what you should know about contested divorces in Minnesota.

Legal Representation

In a contested divorce, it’s highly recommended that you hire a lawyer. A lawyer is like a guide who knows the rules of the divorce process.

They can help you understand your rights, fill out paperwork correctly, and speak on your behalf in court if needed. Having a lawyer can make sure your voice is heard, and your interests are protected.

Court Involvement

Contested divorces often end up in court. When couples can’t agree on things like who gets the house or who takes care of the kids, a judge steps in to make those decisions.

Going to court means meetings, hearings, and waiting for the judge to decide. It can take a long time and cost more money.

Emotional Strain

Divorce is already hard, and in contested divorces, it can be even harder. When you and your spouse disagree on important things, it can lead to arguments and hurt feelings.

This emotional strain can be tough on both you and your family, especially if you have kids.

Financial Costs

Contested divorces can be expensive. You may have to pay for your lawyer, court fees, and other costs that come up during the process.

Sometimes, these expenses can add up to a considerable amount of money. So, be prepared for the financial side of a contested divorce.

Remember, in a contested divorce, it’s like you and your spouse are on different teams. You each have your own goals, and the judge is the one who makes the final decisions. It can be a long and challenging process, so it’s important to think carefully about whether it’s the right path for you.

Uncontested Divorce

In contrast, an uncontested divorce occurs when spouses are in agreement on all major issues related to their divorce. Let’s explore what you should know about uncontested divorces in Minnesota.

Simplified Process

Uncontested divorces are simpler and faster because both spouses agree on everything. It’s like having a smooth, straightforward journey.

Since there are no big disagreements, you can finish the divorce paperwork more quickly, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time in court.


Uncontested divorces are usually less expensive. You won’t need to hire a lawyer to argue your case in court because you and your spouse already agree on everything. This means you can save money on legal fees and court costs.

Reduced Stress

Uncontested divorces are less stressful because you and your spouse are working together as a team. It’s like finding common ground and solving a puzzle together.

Since you agree on the important issues, there are fewer arguments and less tension. This can be better for your emotional well-being.

The bottom line is that, in an uncontested divorce, it’s like taking the easier path. You and your spouse are on the same page, and there are fewer obstacles in your way. It can be a smoother and more peaceful way to end your marriage if you both can agree on the important things.

Minnesota-Specific Considerations

Now that we’ve covered the basics of contested and uncontested divorce proceedings let’s delve into some Minnesota-specific considerations. These include residency requirements, property division, and more.

Residency Requirements

Minnesota has a rule that says at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 180 days before starting the divorce process. This means you need to be a Minnesota resident for about six months before you can officially file for divorce in the state.

No-Fault Divorce

In Minnesota, you don’t have to blame anyone for the divorce. Instead, you can simply say that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences.”

This is called a “no-fault” divorce. It’s like saying that the relationship just isn’t working out without pointing fingers at each other. This approach can make the process less confrontational.

Property Division

When it comes to dividing things like your house, money, and belongings, Minnesota follows a rule of “equitable distribution.” This means that the court aims to split everything fairly but not necessarily equally.

They consider factors like who earned what and who needs what. It’s like making sure both sides get a fair share of the pie, even if the slices aren’t exactly the same size.

Child Custody

In Minnesota, decisions about child custody are made with the child’s best interests in mind.

The court looks at factors like the child’s age, their relationship with each parent, and each parent’s ability to provide a stable and loving environment. The goal is to ensure that the child’s needs and interests are met.


Mediation is encouraged in Minnesota to help couples resolve their differences without going to court.

A mediator assists in negotiations and helps you reach agreements on things like property division and child custody. It’s a less adversarial and more cooperative approach to resolving disputes.

Contested vs Uncontested Divorce

Understanding your options when it comes to contested vs. uncontested divorce is the first step toward a smoother divorce process, and FairWell is here to assist you every step of the way.

Whether you’re unsure which path to choose and are still contemplating contested vs uncontested divorce, a quick guidance call with FairWell Family Law Mediation can provide you with valuable insights tailored to your situation.


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