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Agreed Divorce vs. Contested Divorce

Divorces are highly emotional legal battles. Because of this, emotions can play a role in the way a divorce is classified and handled. In California, divorces can end up in one of two ways—contested or by agreement.

What’s the Difference Between an Agreed and Contested Divorce?

California allows for two types of grounds for divorce:

  • Irreconcilable Differences. This is by far the most common method for divorce in California. Also known as a “no-fault” divorce, this essentially means that “there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage” and no future efforts on either party’s part would be able to repair the marriage.
  • Incurable Insanity. Though this is an option, it’s rarely used. In order to obtain a divorce through Incurable Insanity, one spouse would have to provide medical evidence that shows their spouse is medically insane and there is no cure for their insanity.

California is a Community Property State

Along with nine other states, California is a community property state. This means that regardless of which spouse contributed more during the marriage, each spouse is entitled to one-half of the marital assets in the event of a divorce.

There are a few exceptions and spouses rarely decide to split everything down the middle, then walk away.

Agreed Divorces

Also known as an amicable or no-fault divorce, an agreed divorce occurs when both parties come to an agreement regarding all the issues involved in their case. Because they avoid litigation, agreed divorces are often handled through alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), such as mediation. During this process, an unbiased third-party mediator will help facilitate meaningful conversation, designed to help both parties come to a reasonable resolution.

Contested Divorces

California is a no-fault state, meaning you don’t have to give a reason (adultery, abandonment, etc.) for filing for divorce. So long as one party believes the marriage can not be repaired, they can file for divorce.

A divorce is considered contested if:

  • One spouse doesn’t wish to get divorced at all;
  • One or both spouses can’t come to an agreement regarding the details of their divorce (what to do about joint property, bank accounts, debts, child custody, alimony, etc.)

If both parties can’t come to a decision, the matter(s) will be brought to court, where a judge will rule on the matter after hearing the details of the case.

Why You Want to Avoid a Contested Battle

Like we said, divorces can be highly emotional. Sometimes, one or both parties begin the divorce process with the intention of “winning” the divorce. However, many people quickly realize that a contested divorce is lengthy, stressful, and costly. Though a contested divorce is sometimes unavoidable, we often encourage our clients to try to resolve their differences amicably.

Do I need a lawyer for an agreed divorce?

Absolutely! An agreed divorce might not be as strenuous as a contested divorce, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It’s important to remember that divorces don’t just end a marriage, they also set up your future. Without a lawyer by your side, it’s possible to make mistakes that will end up prolonging your divorce or costing you in the future.

If you’re considering filing for divorce in California, it’s essential you have a strong attorney by your side. An attorney can alleviate the emotional stress of a divorce, navigate the family law system, and help you reach a favorable outcome.

Schedule a consultation today by calling our divorce attorneys in San Diego at (619) 577-4900 or complete our convenient online contact form.