New York Family Law Group

Contested Divorce Vs. Uncontested Divorce: The Pros & Cons

Last updated on January 12, 2024

Divorce is an intricate legal process that requires careful decision-making at every step. While deciding to divorce probably feels like the biggest decision you’ll have to make, that is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no formula or set method of divorce; rather several paths and options to choose from, including whether to pursue a contested and uncontested divorce.

There are both benefits and drawbacks to both types of divorce, depending on your unique situation and goals. If you’re contemplating your options for divorce, it’s important to consider what your priorities are so that you can have clarity as you work to end your marriage and lay a foundation for your life after the split.

In this blog, we’ll discuss what contested and uncontested divorce are, as well as the pros and cons of each so that you can have a thorough understanding of your available options. Let’s begin!

Contested Divorce

Contested divorce is considered the more complicated method, undertaken by two spouses who cannot agree on the various aspects of their divorrce, such as asset and property division, creating a custody arrangement, spousal support, and more. It is similar to any type of litigation, involving discovery, summoning witnesses, making motions, and introducing evidence.


  • Protection of your rights and interests.

While some spouses are able to come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce, not every couple can. If you feel your rights are being infringed upon, and your voice not heard, contested divorce gives you the opportunity to tell your side of the story to a judge in hopes that they’ll side with you.

  • Enforcement

If your partner is highly combative, and/or has a personality disorder or other behavioral issues, contested divorce is one way to ensure that they remain legally compliant throughout the divorce process and after, as the terms will be legally encforceable.

  • Appealable

Uncontested divorce isn’t able to be appealed, as it requires couples to agree on all of the aspects of divorce before proceeding. Contested divorce, however, can be appealed if there are grounds to do so. Because each spouse will get to tell the judge their side of the story, the judge may ultimately side with one spouse in most ways, or both spouses in others, resulting in decisions you or your spouse may be unhappy with.


  • Expensive

While the average cost of a divorce in New York is $16,000 (which is by no means cheap), the specific method you choose will influence exactly how much you spend. The average cost of a divorce involving litigation in New York is $27,000. It’s important to note that there are a variety of other factors that may influence the cost of divorce like individual attorney fees, court fees, the complexity of your issues (spousal support, child support, etc), and more.

  • Stressful

Because of the complex steps involved in a contested divorce, it’s natural for it to be a more emotionally charged process, especially when there are children involved. From custody battles to financial disputes, the adversarial nature of a contested divorce can prove to be particularly strenuous.

  • Lengthy

A contested divorce is known to take up much more time than an uncontested divorce, and can last anywhere from 6 months to a year or longer. You can find a flow chart here which maps out the allotted amount of time given for each step of the divorce process in New York.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce takes place when a couple can come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce without having to get the courts involved. Divorce can be a relatively simple process when a couple can agree on the division of their properties, assets, debts, or custody of minor children, and more.


  • Cost-Effective

As previously mentioned, a contested divorce in New York can cost around $27,000. In comparison, an uncontested divorce in New York costs about $5,500. 

  • Takes Less Time

When you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on custody matters, visitation, child and spousal support, division of property, assets, debts, and more, it generally will save you time and the matter can be resolved relatively quickly. This can factor into lowering the overall expense of your divorce as well, since you’ll require no time in the court and less time from your attorney.

  • Better For Your Mental & Emotional Health

It’s no secret that divorce can be extremely draining mentally and emotionally. It is, after all, not just the end of one of your most important relationships, but a multifaceted legal process that requires careful consideration. The simplicity that an uncontested divorce can offer can lessen the emotional impact of the transition and provide a streamlined path to your ideal resolution.


  • Incomplete Resolutions

While it isn’t a bad thing to want to get through your divorce as amicably and quickly as possible, this could result in an incomplete resolution of certain elements of your divorce. For example, you might hastily agree on something you actually aren’t completely onboard with to avoid conflict. It might seem worth it now, but you may wish you’d considered the long-term implications.

  • Imbalance Of Power

If you or your spouse are more assertive, knowledgeable about divorce law, or in some shape or form have the upper hand when it comes to divorce matters, the less-informed party might agree to terms that aren’t in their best interest, which may lead to disputes or resentment down the road. This can be especially damaging to those who share children together.

Which Is Better – Contested Or Uncontested?

In conclusion, there is no “right answer,” for divorce – there’s only what’s right for you (and your children, if you have them). An experienced attorney can evaluate your situation and help you determine which method of divorce is best suited to your needs.

How New York Family Law Group Can Help You

Whether you and your spouse are on decent terms and feel that an uncontested divorce will be the best option, or you can’t agree on anything and need to file for a contested divorce, New York Family Law Group is prepared to help you through either journey. Our divorce attorneys have 35+ years of combined experience with New York family law, so we can advise you on which method of divorce might suit your needs best. We will also fight diligently to protect your rights and best interests along the way.

We know that divorce can consist of overwhelming sadness, anger, financial stress, and more, so we dedicate ourselves to providing skilled, expert legal representation. If you know your marriage is over, book a discovery call at New York Family Law Group today. We’ll give you the guidance you need to resolve your divorce quickly and efficiently.



More Resources