Hands of Wife, Husband Signing Decree of Divorce

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce: Which One Is Right for Me? 

Rieper Law P.C. Jan. 24, 2023

Iowa is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there doesn’t need to be a specific reason for the divorce, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, and more. Instead, the court just wants/needs a signed document from both parties saying that the marriage is irreparable. 

However, no matter the type of divorce you get, there are many topics you’ll need to consider when getting divorced, and you may not even know what is the best choice to move forward. You’ll have to consider child custody, child support, alimony, separation of property, and more. Finding the divorce type that’s right for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will help you move on and take the next steps toward a different future.  

At Rieper Law P.C., I am a divorce attorney ready to work diligently to serve those in Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding areas of Polk County, Madison County, Dallas County, Jasper County, Warren County, and Story County. Whether you need a compassionate ear or an aggressive advocate, I am here to support you, so reach out today. 

What Is an Uncontested Divorce? 

An uncontested divorce can happen when both parties can come together and discuss divorce topics without the need for a jury.   

The Process 

Your very first step should be reaching out to a divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process from start to finish. Generally, an uncontested divorce can go through a process called mediation, where an attorney helps you and your spouse make final decisions. However, sometimes, it just includes an attorney helping you write the legal documents to make sure they are sound. An uncontested divorce includes the following steps: 

  1. File divorce paperwork. You can find the divorce paperwork through the clerk of court who will tell you where to find it. Once the paperwork is filled out, take it to the local courthouse and file. Be prepared to pay a filing fee. If you can’t pay, ask the court clerk for a fee waiver form.  

  1. Serve your spouse. You’ll get a case number after filing, and you’ll need to have the divorce papers served to your spouse. 

  1. Finalize the divorce. Finalizing the divorce includes agreeing on divorce topics like child custody, child support, alimony, and more. Make sure to have it written and signed. Then, a judge will sign it after a 90-day waiting period.  

Whether your divorce goes through mediation or is contested, divorce terms need to be verified through a court.  

What Is a Contested Divorce? 

Contested divorces occur when you and your spouse are not able to come to solutions without the help of the court. Maybe your spouse refuses to sign the divorce papers. Maybe they sign, but they disagree with it occurring. Even if the divorce itself is an amicable divorce, it's possible there are specific topics that you can’t agree on. No matter which position you find yourself in, make sure to get the help of an attorney to guide you through the process. An attorney can protect your rights and fight for what you want throughout the divorce.  

The Process 

Here are the steps to take in a contested divorce: 

  1. Contact a divorce attorney. 

  1. File divorce paperwork. 

  1. Serve the divorce papers.  

  1. Proceed with legal motions and hearings.  

  1. Appeal, if you disagree with the judge’s decisions.  

Which One Is Right for Me? 

If you and your spouse can seek total agreement on all issues in your case, your best bet is to get an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can't agree on some or any divorce issues, you’ll likely need to go through a contested divorce.  

Whichever type of divorce you and your spouse decide to pursue, having an attorney on your side can help protect your best interests.  

Discover Your Options Today 

At my firm, I have years of experience as a divorce attorney serving the state of Iowa. From my office in Des Moines, I serve individuals and families throughout Polk County, Madison County, Dallas County, Jasper County, Warren County, and Story County. I strive to give my clients the solid communication and diligent care they deserve. Reach out today for a free consultation.