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A contested divorce is generally more difficult and expensive compared to an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce you and your spouse work together to reach an agreement regarding division of marital property, assets, and debts. And, if there are minor children born or adopted to both you and your spouse then you must be in agreement on how to handle child custody, visitation and child support.
In a contested case, you are simply asking the court to make these decisions for you. There are many valid reasons for pursuing a contested divorce and having an attorney represent you. Some examples may include couples seeking divorce wherein the spouses are dividing a substantial estate that may include significant monies, houses, land, businesses, or other high value assets. Other examples may include a spouse needing protection from an abusive spouse or needing court orders to stop a spouse from taking certain actions such as wasting or concealing marital assets.
However, contested divorce should not be pursued out of spite. In most all cases couples eventually reach an agreement and end their divorce without a courtroom battle. However, the couple spends many thousands or even tens of thousands to reach an agreement that they may have been able to reach at the start of the divorce process.
In addition, California courts encourage couples to reach agreement if possible. As such the court may require mediation and other settlement options between you, your spouse, and the attorney(s) representing you and/or your spouse.
Since an uncontested divorce avoids the adversarial win-lose outcome in divorce you should try to reach an agreement with your spouse if possible and avoid costly litigation as it is very likely you will end your divorce case by agreement.