Exploring Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Arizona – Understanding the Differences

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Divorce comes with plenty of fraught emotions and forces couples to make difficult decisions about their future. However, making informed decisions can provide stability and peace of mind.

When it comes to divorce in Arizona, two paths emerge:

  • Contested
  • Uncontested

Each option presents its set of characteristics, implications, and processes. Read on to learn which path may be best for your divorce journey.

Defining Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when spouses fail to reach an agreement regarding their separation. They may contest several issues and rely on the court for resolution. Some of the scenarios that typically lead to contested divorces include:

  • Property division: Spouses are unable to divide their assets and debts fairly. It includes real estate, investments, businesses, and other valuable belongings.
  • Child custody: Parents have conflicts about the arrangement to raise their child. It includes making decisions about the child’s living situation, education, healthcare, and other crucial matters.
  • Financial matters: Spouses disagree on financial responsibilities, like alimony and child support.

Navigating the Contested Divorce Process

A contested divorce process can be lengthy and complex, as the parties seek to protect their best interests.

The process includes the following steps:

Filing the divorce petition

You need to file a petition with the court to initiate the contested divorce. In this petition, you must outline your reasons for divorce and specify the contesting issues.


If your partner has filed a divorce petition, you must file your response. In this response, you will respond to the allegations made by your partner and present your claims. Typically, you have 20 days to file your reply from the date you receive the petition.


This can be the longest step in the process. Both parties collect material information and evidence relating to their cases. This includes financial documents, evidence relating to child custody, and any information to strengthen their case.


After the discovery process, the spouses attempt to negotiate and settle their issues.

Some of the methods that spouses use to settle their disputes are:

  • Mediation
  • Collaborative divorce
  • Settlement conferences

Most divorce cases end here as the parties find common ground to resolve their disputes.


When parties fail to settle their dispute, they proceed to trial. Both parties present their evidence and arguments to the court. The judge listens to their contentions and decides their case.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you throughout this complex process.

The Role of Legal Representation

Legal representation plays a vital role throughout the contested divorce process. It can help you protect your rights and interests, give you peace of mind, and bring stability to your life.

A divorce lawyer can do the following to help you with your contested divorce:

Provide guidance

A divorce lawyer can help you understand your rights and interests. They can guide you through a contested divorce and help you make informed decisions.


A divorce lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests throughout the negotiation and ensure you reach a fair settlement.

Representation in court

If negotiation fails, a divorce lawyer can present your case in court to protect your best interests.

Defining Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce refers to a situation where spouses agree on their separation arrangements.

When both parties are willing to cooperate, they are more likely to agree on key issues, such as:

  • Child custody
  • Alimony support
  • Division of assets and liabilities

As a result, they will reach their separation agreement without any court intervention.

Advantages of Uncontested Divorce

Choosing an uncontested divorce path can offer the following advantages:

  • It’s less time-consuming and expensive due to minimal court involvement.
  • It’s less stressful and emotional as both parties do not battle to protect their rights and interests. Instead, they work cooperatively to resolve their issues.
  • Parties have more control over the outcome due to their cooperation.
  • It offers the opportunity to move on quickly due to its quick resolution.

Simplifying the Uncontested Divorce Process

An uncontested divorce is shorter and less complex than a contested divorce. There are two ways to file for an uncontested divorce:

  • Divorce by default
  • Summary consent decree

In the default divorce process, one spouse files a divorce petition with the court. The other spouse elects not to file a response to the petition within the prescribed time, which is usually 20 days.

However, if the other spouse fails to file their response within the prescribed time, you can request a default hearing. Afterward, the court will give them ten more days to file their response. If they still do not respond, the court may grant a divorce in your favor.

On the other hand, the consent decree process is more simplified. It allows both parties to submit a consent decree which the judge reviews and approves if it meets all requirements for a consent decree.

The judge reviews your paperwork and signs a divorce decree if everything is in order. Generally, you do not need to appear before the court for these proceedings, and they take at least 60 days to complete.

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When to Choose Contested or Uncontested Divorce

Choosing between a contested or uncontested divorce can rely on various factors, including the following:

  1. High level of conflict
  2. Negative emotions and resentment
  3. Child Concerns

A contested divorce might be necessary if your marriage has these issues. Alternatively, if you can cooperate and agree on major issues, an uncontested divorce is advisable.

Legal Assistance and Support

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of contested and uncontested divorces.

In both options, spouses are often unaware of their rights, interests, and legal obligations. Therefore, an experienced divorce lawyer can protect your best interests throughout the divorce process.


Navigating the complexities of divorce requires a thorough understanding of the divorce options. If you’re going through a divorce in Arizona, contact a Phoenix divorce lawyer from The Law Office of Cosmas Onyia. We can assess your unique situation and help you embark on a divorce journey that aligns with your needs and goals.