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What is the Difference Between Mutual Consent and Contested Divorce?

When discussing divorce in its most simplistic form there are those which are uncontested and those which are contested. Uncontested divorces, also known as mutual consent divorces, are those that are not being disputed. Therefore, there are no defence proceedings involved. On the other hand, are contested divorces. These are typically more expensive, take longer to settle and have more complications. This is because the divorcing pair needs to attend at least two Court hearings to settle matters.

How long your divorce will take to finalise or how much it will cost will depend on whether your ex-spouse wants to contest proceedings or whether they agree with proceedings.

What is the Acknowledgement of Service?

If you file for a divorce you are known as the Petitioner. The Acknowledgement of Service is a document sent by the Court to your ex – they are known as the Respondent. The Respondent will need to complete and return the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court. In their response, the individual will be able to voice whether they agree with or will be contesting the divorce.

What is a mutual consent divorce

The majority, but not all of divorces are mutual consent. This means that bother parties are on the same page and neither you nor your ex are wanting to defend the Divorce Petition. In a nutshell, you both agree to the divorce. Neither party will need to attend a Court hearing, and everything can be dealt with via letters and paperwork.

Mutual consent divorces can take around six months to complete if both parties are prompt with filing their paperwork with the Court.

What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce means that you or your ex-partner do not agree to the divorce. Therefore, a minimum of two Court hearings will often occur in a bid to help finalise matters and reach an agreement.

For example, if your ex wanted to contest the petition for divorce you put forward, they can legally do so. They will have a month to submit their ‘Answer’ from the date the Acknowledgement of Service is supplied to the court. In their Answer (a statement) they can outline their reasons for wanting to contest the divorce. They may not agree that the marriage has broken down or that any adultery or wrongdoing was committed. Essentially, your ex will be able to argue against the reason for divorce that you have stated in your Divorce Petition. The ‘official’ reason for filing for divorce can be one of the following:

  • 2 or 5 years of separation
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable behaviour

Both you and your ex will be given the chance to present evidence to the Court. This will allow the judge to decide whether the Divorce Petition put forward can be granted.

Contesting a divorce is a rare occurrence and it is difficult to present enough evidence for a Court not to allow the proceedings to go forward.

What if the respondent does not answer?

If your ex-partner does not submit their Answer to a contested divorce within the month timeframe after filing their Acknowledgement of Service, you will continue proceedings as if it were a mutual consent divorce. They have lost their right to contest the divorce by not abiding the time limit given.

 

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