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Michigan Family Law Blog

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce - What You Need to Know

Michigan is considered a no-fault state for divorce matters. In no-fault states, parties can obtain a divorce without proving grounds or “fault.” For instance, in some states, you must prove one or more grounds for the divorce, such as adultery, abuse, or abandonment. In Michigan, you only need to state that you want to end the marriage to obtain a divorce.

Even though Michigan does not require grounds for a divorce, that does not mean that all divorces are uncontested. Whether a divorce is contested has to do with the issues and matters related to the divorce instead of terminating the marital union. A Michigan divorce lawyer can explain your legal rights and your options for obtaining a divorce.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

An uncontested divorce in Michigan means that the parties agree to all terms and conditions of the divorce. The spouses are not arguing about property, children, or support payments. If the parties disagree about any divorce terms, the divorce proceeding becomes contested. An uncontested divorce saves the couple time and money.

In an uncontested divorce, one spouse files a divorce petition with the court and serves the other spouse. The spouse receiving the divorce papers can respond to the papers stating that he or she agrees with all terms stated in the divorce company and jointly requests that the court grant the divorce based on those terms. The spouse may also choose not to respond to the divorce complaint, which results in the filing spouse receiving a default order granting the divorce on the terms requested in the divorce complaint.

It is important to note that an uncontested divorce does not always need to be amicable. The parties may have strong negative feelings toward one another, but still settle all matters regarding the divorce outside of court.

What Is Involved in a Contested Divorce Proceeding?


In a contested divorce, the parties disagree on one or more terms of the divorced. The spouses may disagree about how to divide property or whether one spouse should receive spousal support payments. Parents may disagree about the terms of custody, visitation, and child support.

A contested divorce can last months or years. Both parties engage in discovery and trial preparation. If the parties cannot settle their differences through mediation or settlement negotiations, the court schedules a trial. At the trial, both parties present their evidence and witnesses to support their allegations. The judge then decides the issues based on the evidence presented in court and the applicable family court laws.

The parties may settle a contested divorce before a trial. It is beneficial for the parties to settle the case before trial because they can save time and money, but they also have more say in the outcome of the case instead of allowing a judge to make the decisions for them.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney for More Information

Many spouses settle divorces in Michigan out of court. However, some couples require a judge to settle their disputes. The first step is to consult with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney to learn about your legal rights and how to protect your best interest and the best interests of your children during a divorce proceeding. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding to discuss your options. 

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