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A divorce is considered “contested” when spouses cannot reach an agreement on all issues when terminating their marriage. Some of the most common issues that couples typically face, even with the assistance of their attorney, are:
- Child Custody and Support
- Alimony: encompasses money or other property paid by one party to the other to support the other spouse after a separation or divorce.
- Visitation Rights
- Spousal Support
- Asset and Property Division: including your home, retirement accounts, bank accounts, investment accounts, possessions, businesses, insurance policies, cars, etc.
- Debt Allocation: including your student loans, credit card debts, car loans, mortgage debt, etc.
When spouses cannot arrive at an agreement they must let a court decide whatever their dispute is.
Uncontested or “simple” divorces occur when both parties agree on all issues required to terminate their marriage without quarreling in front of a judge or third party in court. If both parties agree on most issues, but not all, then the divorce becomes a “contested” divorce since someone has to arbiter over any unresolved issues before a resolution can be achieved. The instrument used to collect all decisions made is known as your “Marital Settlement Agreement”. The agreement will spell out all the terms of the divorce and usually cover property division, child custody, visitation schedules, debt division, spousal support and alimony, and any other relevant issues related to the divorce.
With an uncontested divorce both spouses will need to attend one hearing in front of a judge to receive their Final Judgment of Divorce decree, but this hearing is typically quick since both parties have already reached an agreement.
People usually prefer an uncontested divorce since it is usually quicker, less expensive, and less painful for all involved.
There is a third type of a divorce is called a divorce by publication. A divorce by publication is allowed in the State of Florida and it is typically used when one of the spouses cannot be located. The absent spouse is served notice of the divorce by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the action is taking place. The court can also require that the plaintiff attempt to serve their spouse with the divorce documents at their last known address, even if it is out-of-state or international. After the notice runs for ninety (90) days, the plaintiff can obtain a divorce by default judgment if the other spouse fails to respond.