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Understanding the Difference Between Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

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No doubt about it, most divorces are messy. Emotions are high; people are hurt; anger is rampant. A good divorce attorney such as the divorce attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC is what is needed to help calm emotions and make the divorce proceedings run smoothly and efficiently for all involved.

Divorces can get even messier when they are contested. What exactly is a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce? >Petrelli Previtera, LLC will answer that question in this blog post, and if you are thinking about a divorce or have just been told by your spouse, he or she wants a divorce, contact us today!


A contested divorce is a divorce where the parties involved cannot agree to the terms of the divorce. The areas of dispute are often on the division of assets, alimony, child support, child custody, and debt responsibility.


An uncontested divorce is a divorce lawyer’s dream because they are not all that frequent. This is where the parties agree on everything and do not need a third-party to intervene and decide about any areas of contention. Uncontested divorces are usually characterized by either little time of being together and/or no children together. Uncontested divorces are processed much more quickly, are much less complicated, and thus are less costly than contested divorces.


A divorce settlement is when a contested divorce is settled or agreed upon by both parties involved before reaching trial. This is the most frequent type of divorces. They are a bit more costly as they take longer than an uncontested divorce, but these are better than when a contested divorce goes to trial. Here, the decision is out of both parties hands, and if the court makes a ruling that one party does not like, it enters an appeal process, which takes even longer to finalize the divorce. When you settle, you are agreeing to the divorce terms and thus cannot appeal it. This ends divorce proceedings.


  • Prepare, file, and serve the divorce petition, which is the legal paperwork asking for the divorce and stating the reason why
  • Respond to the petition
  • Hire a divorce attorney
  • Divorce discovery process, which is where information is gathered by both divorce lawyers, such as subpoenas, questionnaires, and depositions
  • Pre-trial legal motions and hearings (this can be a handful of hearings anywhere up to dozens. This is where legal fees can add up quick.)
  • Settlement proposals and negotiations between divorce lawyers
  • Trial if a divorce settlement is not reached
  • Appeal process if a party is not happy with the court’s decision
  • Finalize the divorce


  • Prepare, file, and serve the divorce petition
  • Respond to the petition
  • Both parties sign the divorce petition, agreeing to the terms
  • Pay filing fee
  • A judge will approve the divorce and finalize it


As you can see from the steps above, an uncontested divorce is much simpler (and often much less stressful) than a contested divorce. The difference in cost can be substantial when you contest a divorce. Family lawyers such as Petrelli Previtera, LLC usually charge by the hour, so costs can add up quickly the more your lawyer has to go back and forth with another lawyer. And if a divorce settlement is not reached and you go to trial, you’ll face court costs as well. Most of us know getting a divorce is not cheap, both in terms of representation and dividing up assets with your spouse.


In an effort to save money, some couples have opted to forgo professional representation. This is usually for uncontested divorces. In this instant, it may be worth your while, as you’d just pay for the paperwork to be drawn up and finalized. However, in a contested divorce, DIY divorces are not recommended by the divorce law firm of Petrelli Previtera, LLC. The legal proceedings are very complex in contested divorces to those untrained in the law. Furthermore, when you act as your own lawyer in a contested divorce, the emotional repercussions can be devastating, and your judgment can be easily clouded by emotions. Having an impartial, top-notch divorce lawyer as your advocate such as the divorce lawyers at Petrelli Previtera, LLC is well worth its weight in gold.


The Denver divorce lawyers at Petrelli Previtera, LLC in Colorado specialize in people. We make your priorities our priorities as we promise to represent you with honesty, clarity, and integrity. We understand the financial and emotional hardship a divorce can bring, and we want to help you by assuaging your worries by allowing us to represent you. We understand that the cost of a divorce, especially a contested divorce, can be a financial burden. As the Top Rated Local® family law firm, we’ll fight for you every step of the way. Contact us for a confidential divorce attorney consultation today!

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

Jennifer A.

My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

David R.

My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

Caitlin B.

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